Helping Families Cope
While there is no cure, there is care
Dementia. It's the word that can strike fear and dread into the hearts of families. That's because dementia often takes away the very things that people treasure most; their identity, their memories and their ability to communicate with their family.
Dementia affects over 850,000 people in the UK and the figure is growing at an unprecedented rate. Part of the reason for this is that people are more aware of dementia and more willing to discuss it. As a result, they are more likely to seek medical help, leading to improved rates of diagnosis.
However, by 2051, over 2 million people will have been diagnosed with a type of dementia. These are not just statistics; they represent the millions of families with loved ones who require special care and support to live a fulfilled life with dementia.
Understanding dementia and its many symptoms
Dementia is progressive and is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer's or a stroke. There are many forms of dementia, with the most common being Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for around 60 percent of cases in older people. Each dementia has different traits, for example, with Alzheimer's, memory problems feature quite strongly whereas, with dementia with Lewy bodies, visual hallucinations are also quite a common occurrence.
It is important to know that if you suspect someone close to you has signs of having dementia, that you encourage them to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Dementia usually progresses through stages and an early diagnosis means you can help your loved one by understanding how their condition may develop.
Stages of dementia
Every person living with dementia is unique and no two people have the same journey with their condition. What is certain though is that cognitive impairment will develop through the different stages of dementia. There is no definitive timeline to the stages of dementia, but the following are typical descriptions of what happens through someone's journey.
Often the very early stages are only apparent in hindsight. At the time, things that happen are put down as old age, over tiredness, stress of other factors. The onset of dementia is usually gradual and it is often impossible to identify an exact moment when the symptoms, such as memory problems, began to appear.
The middle stages of dementia are when the problems of memory loss, cognitive impairment or confusion may become more apparent and may have a greater impact on a person's ability to maintain independence and take care of themselves. They may forget familiar faces, repeat themselves and have problems sequencing tasks such as getting dressed or taking a bath.
This stage is when a person is unable to manage usual activities of daily living and require round the clock support to carry out necessary tasks such as eating, dressing and maintaining personal hygiene. Sometimes the effects of the dementia may cause someone to become unable to move easily or consume food and drinks unaided. It is important to remember that throughout every stage, there is a way to provide dignified care and support and encourage someone to continue with social interaction.
Home Instead knows how difficult and emotional it can be to support someone living at home with dementia.
Knowing how to respond to the behaviours and situations caused by dementia is unfamiliar to many. How do you learn about the different ways to successfully care and support a loved one in a dignified and confident way?
Through our years of providing care to many of our client's living with dementia, we have a lot of answers to these questions. We are here to help.
We have designed a unique dementia training programme for our CAREGivers, which is accredited by City & Guilds and focusses on the home care environment. Developed by leading experts in ageing and dementia from around the world, it helps our CAREGivers to provide the best quality care possible using different strategies to support the person living with dementia.
We know that living with someone with dementia can feel stressful and challenging for the family as well as for the person with the condition. To help you, we offer to share the key learning from our training with family members, to make this difficult time an easier journey for everyone.
Home Instead provides guidance and advice for family members who are worried about how they will manage with the situation at home.
Using our dementia care expertise, we can help you with ways to:
Help with communication
In most cases, as the dementia progresses, the ability for a person to communicate verbally is reduced and instead, the person will express themselves through their behaviour. These include non-verbal communication, to try and convey a message. This can be frustrating for them and for the family member. We can help you understand that different behaviours are how the person with dementia will attempt to communicate a need. For example, their behaviour may reflect that they are trying to communicate that they are hungry or need to use the toilet.
Capture life's journey
Capturing someone's life stories and memories is really important and also makes for an enjoyable activity to do and revisit. Recording events, feelings and special moments from times gone by can also help you understand different situations as the dementia progresses. It is also a lovely way to commemorate the person and their life long achievements.
Engage in activities
Often people who live with dementia can lose interest in the things they once enjoyed doing or simply forget about them. Encouraging engagement in activities can help someone find enjoyment, reduce boredom and feel fulfilled. Activities can be intellectual such as doing puzzles and crosswords, physical such as gentle walks or social such as meeting friends.
Use the 5 senses
Stimulating one or more of the 5 senses can really help people with advanced dementia to find enjoyment in things. It can also help promote calmness in someone who is upset or agitated. For example, a favourite piece of music can help soothe or encourage a person. Tasting different foods and smelling favourite flowers can prompt familiar memories.
Assist with nutrition
We know that people with dementia can forget to eat or might eat the wrong types of food for maintaining good health. Gentle prompting and providing full and nutritious meals can help to ensure their health doesn't deteriorate through malnutrition. Using different techniques to help with recognition and digestion of food is important.
Make the home a safe environment
Whether it's keeping someone safe from potential scams, helping them avoid unsafe practices through lack of awareness, or reminding people to take medication, there are many ways in which to establish and maintain safety in the home for someone with dementia.
Manage personal hygiene
Failing to maintain a good level of personal hygiene can be a sign of someone's progressing dementia. Sometimes, gentle encouragement and different ways of approaching the subject can provide the motivation to take a bath, or change clothing or bedding.
Instead of worry, there's Home Instead
Dementia is more prevalent in people of an older age and as we are living longer, we are becoming more adept in recognising the signs and achieving a diagnosis of dementia at an earlier stage. With or without a diagnosis, people often need support and assistance to help them retain as much independence and live as fulfilled lives as possible.
An early recognition and acknowledgement of support can help families establish care as part of the daily routine, helping those with memory loss to remain independent.
At Home Instead, we recognise the challenge of caring for someone with dementia and our years of experience in helping families at home means that we are best placed to offer expertise when it comes to providing care and support for someone living with dementia.
Your loved one is in safe hands
Our dementia care expertise along with our relationship-centred approach enables our CAREGivers to provide personalised care that :
- Helps your loved one remain safe and calm at home.
- Builds confidence and encourages engagement.
- Can provide nutritious meals and mealtime activities to encourage healthy eating.
- Creates opportunities for social interaction.
- Provides stimulating activities.
- Builds self-esteem and enhances physical strength.
- Helps to understand different behaviours and needs.
- Supports the family to help you take a rest and enjoy some respite time from your caring duties.
All of this means you can rest assured that you will have the right team in place to put your mind at ease and know that your loved ones are receiving the best care possible.
If you believe you or your family member would benefit from having some support at home, the best way forward is for us to come and meet you at your home for a care consultation. This is where we can discuss your needs and the type of support you are looking for as well as discover what type of CAREGiver would best suit you. For more information call us on 01633 740 028 or Enquire Now.