September is World Alzheimer’s Month, making it the perfect time to discuss Alzheimer’s and dementia. Here, we will talk about how dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect people and share our best practice for Dementia Care at Home.
Dementia affects many people in the UK and can be very distressing for those caring for loved ones living with the condition. However, there are lots of practical steps you can take to support someone living with dementia and help them to live as well as possible.
Dementia in the UK
850,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK. In addition, a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people living with dementia. Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a growing problem in the Western world as populations live longer. These numbers may also be an underestimation as, though rates of diagnosis are improving, many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.
What is dementia?
Dementia is caused by different diseases that affect the brain. These diseases can cause changes in the brain which can lead to a range of symptoms. These problems may include memory loss as well as difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. A person with dementia might also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.
The changes are often small to start with but eventually lead to a diagnosis of dementia at which point they will have become severe enough to affect daily life.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes dementia. There are many types of dementia but the most common ones are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.
What causes dementia?
The brain is made up of nerve cells that communicate with each other by sending messages. Dementia damages the nerve cells in the brain so these messages can’t be sent effectively. This prevents the body from functioning normally and causes a range of symptoms.
Risk factors and risk reduction
Our age, genes, medical history and life choices all contribute to our risk of developing dementia.
Age is the most significant risk factor. However, it is not an inevitable part of ageing. About two in 100 people ages 65 to 69 have dementia but this figure rises in older age groups. Another factor that affects dementia is cardiovascular disease. This means that reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease is likely to reduce your risk of dementia as well.
Research has also suggested that staying mentally active may lower your risk of memory and cognitive problems. There is no clear research on which activities are most effective, but in general, engaging in activities that use your mind might help.
Lastly, social isolation has been linked to a higher risk of dementia. Spending time socialising uses a lot of brainpower and can also keep us feeling happy and positive.
Symptoms of Dementia
Different types of dementia will affect people differently and each person’s experience of dementia is unique. However, there are some common symptoms.
Early signs of dementia may include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar tasks
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
Symptoms may be very mild at first and get worse only very gradually. Eventually, they begin to affect a person’s life significantly and it is usually then that a diagnosis of dementia is made.
Dementia then gets worse over time until it results in severe impairment. At this stage, significant support and care will be required.
Treatments for someone with Dementia
While there is not currently any cure for dementia there are treatments that can alleviate some symptoms. These treatments may include medications, lifestyle changes and treatments for managing other medical conditions. In addition, many activities can support a person with dementia’s wellbeing, including exercise, activities and socialising. These treatments can help a person with dementia live well, improve their self-esteem and reduce anxiety and depression.
Providing dementia care at home for someone in the early stages of dementia
If you are caring for someone with dementia there are many things you can do to support them and yourself.
Here are some tips on providing dementia care at home for someone in the early stages of dementia.
Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition. This will help you give the right support, reduce your frustration and prepare you for the future. If you attend medical appointments with your loved one, you can ask any questions you might have about their treatments and care. You can also find information in books and websites. See our resources section below.
Support them with lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes can help slow the progression of some dementia symptoms as well as helping to keep your loved one physically healthy. Try to make sure they eat a healthy diet, take any medications prescribed for them, get regular exercise, enjoy plenty of social activities, engage in activities that use the brain such as crosswords or knitting, and sleep well.
It can help if you make lifestyle changes alongside them as you can work on your health and wellbeing together. Making lifestyle changes can help you deal with the stress of caring for someone with dementia, too.
Providing dementia care at home for someone in the later stages of dementia
If you are providing dementia care at home for someone in the later stages of dementia, here are some tips.
If you are caring for someone in the later stages of dementia, then you cannot do it alone. You will need help and support from friends and family, volunteers, medical professionals, and carers. It is vitally important to look after your own needs as well. This will ensure that you don’t burn out and can continue to look after your loved one with energy and patience.
You can find support from the associations listed in our resources section at the end of this post. In addition, here are some other sources of support you can draw on.
Carers can visit your loved one’s home for a few hours a week or live in full time depending on your loved one’s needs. Specialist carers are trained in caring for and supporting people living with dementia so you can relax knowing your loved one is in safe hands. Having the support of a trusted carer can allow you time to take a break and take care of your own needs such as medical appointments, attending carer support groups, exercise, socialising and relaxation.
Your loved one may benefit from visiting a daycare centre. These centres offer activities that can support your loved one as well as opportunities for socialising. Look for a centre that specialises in dementia care.
Carers support groups
Looking after your own needs is vital if you are going to stay healthy, happy and mentally strong enough to take care of your loved one. Self-care is not a luxury or selfish, it is a necessity. There are many support groups for carers where you can meet people going through similar situations and learn from others who might have tips and resources to share.
Taking advantage of respite care can give you a block of time to take a break, have a holiday, attend a function, work on your career or any other activity you need time for.
Respite care can be offered in a residential home or in your own home where a live-in carer can come and stay with your loved one providing specialist 24-hour-a-day care.
Mumby’s dementia care at home
At Mumby’s, we specialise in providing outstanding dementia care at home. We believe that live-in care provides the best care for people living with dementia. Because we take care of your loved one in their own home, there is no need for your loved one to suffer the upset of moving out of their home and adjusting to a new routine. In addition, our carers provide one-to-one support and so can give your loved one the time that they need.
A live-in carer provides constant reassurance and companionship so your loved one is safe and cared for and never feels isolated or alone. In addition, your loved one can continue with activities and pastimes they enjoy with their carers support. Friends and family can also visit whenever they choose.
Our carers sensitively support your loved one, so they feel valued and included, while also focussing on promoting their wellbeing and meeting their needs. They can help your loved one to live as independently as possible and meet their personal preferences on everything from meals to bedtime routines.
We provide carers with specialist dementia training, so they understand your loved one’s needs. In addition, we match your loved one with a carer who shares their values and interests to help foster a good relationship. Many of the families we support, consider their carer to be part of the family.
As dementia progresses your loved one’s care will be assessed, and more care and support can be arranged as required.
Mumby’s respite care for Dementia Carers
At Mumby’s, we understand that carers need time off from caring responsibilities for a variety of reasons. Without regular breaks, a carers own health and wellbeing can suffer.
That’s why we provide fully trained dementia carers who can move in temporarily with your loved one while you attend to other things.
Whether you need a respite carer to allow you to have a holiday, work on your career, have medical treatment yourself or just take a much-needed break we are there to support you.
We know that you will return from a break with the energy and patience to keep on doing the valuable job you do.
Chat with us to find out more about how we can help
Our friendly and knowledgeable team are here to help you find the best care solution for your needs. They will be able to guide and advise you through this difficult time. We offer a no-obligation assessment of your loved ones care needs to help you plan the care needed.