By Jenny Warren
Before 2010, I had no experience of Alzheimer’s or had even heard of Vascular Dementia. The motivation to start Home Instead Senior Care was led by the desire to make a difference to people lives, particularly for older people so that they can maintain their independence and quality of life. In the last 7 years I have met, and as an organisation we have supported many individuals and families who have been effected by dementia. I have witnessed first-hand the joy that can be experienced and the easing of the burden faced by family carers that effective support, knowledge and guidance can bring.
With increasing medical advances and greater knowledge on living heathier we are all living longer. There are some that believe that 1 in 3 children born in 2015 will live to develop some form of dementia in their later life, this is a disease that will increasingly touch us all. But what is dementia? Dementia is a syndrome that can be caused by a number of progressive disorders that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks.
According to the World Alzheimer’s Report, Alzheimer’s Disease International estimated that there were 35.6 million people living with dementia worldwide in 2010, increasing to 65.7 million by 2030. Many people have heard of Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia, but there is also Vascular, Lewy Body dementia, Frontotemporal dementia and the possibility of a combination of different dementia types. Each person is unique in how the condition affects them. Some individuals advance through the stages rapidly, while others may live with dementia for 20 plus years. Symptoms may include – memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty completing familiar tasks, challenges with planning and problem solving, confusion with time and place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, decreased or poor judgement, withdrawal from work or social acidities, changes in mood or personality and problems with speaking and writing. Dementia effects the brain, and, as with many Mental Health conditions, because we cannot see the condition, it is harder to recognise, understand and support someone who is suffering with the disease.
How to support and care for someone who has dementia can be very challenging. You may see behaviours from your loved one, friend or neighbour that are uncharacteristic or even odd. Those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias cannot control or prevent these behaviours. They may not be able to tell you that they are feeling upset or angry about something, that they are hungry or in pain. Their world can become totally different to the world that we are used to. I am, fully committed to and am passionate about supporting individuals and families living with dementia and over the coming months, I will be exploring the different techniques that we can all use both in our families and in the wider community to help, support and care fort those that might be effected by some form of dementia.
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