Dementia rates are increasing: annually, approximately 225,000 people in the UK develop a form of dementia. There are already 850,00 people living with dementia and by 2025 this number is expected to rise to over 1 million, swelling to 2 million by 2051.
Dementia affects mainly older people, both men and women, but it can be found in younger people. In the UK over 40,000 people under 65 live with a form of dementia. Around two-thirds of people with dementia are women, the reason for this is unclear.
Dementia is not a disease but is a group of signs and symptoms. The typical early signs of dementia are:
- Struggling to remember things – difficulty in recalling recent events
- Difficulty in working things out – finding it hard to follow conversations, remembering how to get dressed or make a cup of tea
- Difficulty picking up new skills – struggling to learn how to use a new appliance
- Struggling to adapt to physical & sensory changes – loss of confidence and difficulty with hearing aids, new glasses or walking aids
- Difficulties with orientation – problems way finding in familiar surroundings and coping with changes within the home environment
Dementia is a progressive condition and symptoms increase over time. It is gradual, and sufferers experience the changes at different speeds. There is no cure but there are treatments that will help to slow the onset of symptoms or that will help sufferers to live more easily with their symptoms.
There are several types of dementia of which the most common is Alzheimer’s Disease. Other types of dementia include:
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
- Mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Front temporal dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
There are charitable organisations that provide support to families facing specific types of dementia:
Alzheimer’s Research UK
The brain is made up of millions of brain cells that send messages to each other. These messages tell us everything we need to know to cope with everyday life: how to move, they interpret what we are seeing, they allow us to speak. They also store our memories and control our emotions – such as laughing and crying.
Dementia means that, in most cases, some of these brain cells become damaged and die. As a result, the brain doesn’t function as well as it used to – simple messages cannot get through. Sufferers become forgetful and can become confused by their surroundings. They may not remember something that happened yesterday, or how to get dressed. They may fail to recognise their husband or their friends. Sometimes finding the right word might be difficult.
These symptoms can be both frightening and frustrating, leading to anxiety, anger and unhappiness. The world can seem a confusing and unfriendly place.
The challenges and fears of memory loss in older age are clear for both the older person and for the family members affected. There comes a point at which contacting a residential dementia care specialist in this area is the best solution.
Personalised Care Plan
When caring for the elderly, nurture of the individual is important but in dementia care, nurture is critical. Enabling a sense of individual identity, through drawing on a person’s history, experiences, likes, and dislikes, is central to all that specialist dementia care should be. Nurture of the individual should be at the centre of specialist dementia care.
Specialist dementia care aims to reduce the symptoms of dementia where possible, and to provide security and assurance – always. Dementia can be frightening for both the individual and for their loved ones. Specialist dementia care should alleviate this fear. This starts from a personalised care plan for each dementia resident, created in collaboration with their loved ones.
Proven dementia care strategies
Their Story: Dementia sufferers often experience a clear memory from the past, whilst struggling with memories that are more recent. This is why we build on the story of the individual in terms of their history, family, and preferences – all activities and daily living are planned accordingly.
Familiarity: Dementia can be unpredictable. A key caring strategy for a sufferer is to foster familiarity within their care environment. Specialist dementia care should achieve this in a number of different ways: to signal recognition, the use of familiar furniture and personal belongings can be very effective.
Safety: In specialist dementia care settings, safety should be of paramount importance whilst enabling and maximising independence. This requires a specialist approach to the planning of the environment: signage, colour schemes, clearly defined areas and access to outdoor spaces are all key to providing a calming and independent environment.
Exceptional staff: At the centre of dementia care are specialists. These individuals have a deep commitment to dementia care and have professional training to an advanced level. They therefore provide outstanding care to our dementia residents as well as supporting families and helping them to understand dementia.
Time: Dementia residents need to be protected from the rush and stress of daily living. Specialist dementia care staff understand the importance of providing time for each individual, and consider it a privilege to do so. It is through this provision of time that the individual is nurtured.
The needs of dementia suffers changes over time and so care plans are not only closely tailored to individual needs, they are also subject to regular review through meetings with family members and healthcare professionals.
As the condition progresses, we provide an environment that supports therapeutic care, encourages gentle activity and we engage with residents as they reminisce about past times. Most importantly we provide care that maintains their dignity and self-respect.
We use a variety of therapeutic techniques that promote interaction and a sense of wellbeing. We engage the senses through a range of group and one-to-one activities that focus on likes and dislikes and we use reminiscence therapy to trigger memories.
Both our homes offer a range of techniques including music and pet therapies. A beautiful piece of music can strike a chord in a resident’s emotions and a familiar tune can tap into their memories. Pet therapy encourages residents to pet or stroke the animals that we bring into the home. The therapeutic affects of this help to reduce agitation, encourage physical activity, prompt interaction and provide the simple pleasure of companionship. As part of this therapy, we walk dogs near the beach.
To gain further information regarding specialist dementia support please contact: