Understanding Dementia

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.

Showing signs of memory loss and confusion can often be confused with signs of old age, rather than dementia. A person who is living with dementia will often display behaviours that are out of character and their condition will get progressively worse over time.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a campaign to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.

In order to help your loved one, it’s important to be aware of the key signs and symptoms, which are listed below:

Inability to carry out simple tasks

Tasks that your loved one would naturally do, start to become a struggle. A few examples include, being unable to follow simple instructions in recipes, having difficulty in making decisions over small matters and being unable to problem solve are some of the main tell-tale signs of dementia.

Turning off plugs, putting away sharp items such as kitchen knives and making sure to lock doors can help to prevent serious accidents, as it is likely that your loved one will display signs of anxiety or forgetfulness when carrying out day-to-day activities.

Difficulty interacting

A person with dementia may have trouble finding the right word, they may repeat words and phrases, or may become ‘stuck’ on certain sounds.

Make sure that background noises are kept to a minimal where possible and that you relax and slow down your pace when talking to your loved one. Despite the fact that you may see the person several times a day or week, each visit may feel like the first for them. Keep your sentences short, use the person’s name often and try to be wary of your tone and approach if you see them getting anxious or confused.

Short-term memory loss

Memory loss can be an early sign of dementia. Your loved one may struggle to remember recent events, but able to recall things that happened in the past. Alzheimer’s disease creates impairments in short-term memory but remote memory, i.e., things that happened years ago, often remains intact. Memory books, showing old black and white films and talking about past experiences will help to reduce anxiety and make them feel comfortable in their surroundings, rather than attempting to bring the person with dementia back to present day.

Help for you 

Caring for someone living with dementia can be rather challenging. But with the right support, it can be rewarding and often satisfying. There are a number of support groups that can provide advice and an opportunity to meet like-minded people with a listening ear.

Help includes:

Dementia UK – https://www.dementiauk.org/sources-of-support-for-families/

Alzheimer’s Society – https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20046/help_with_dementia_care/79/carers_looking_after_yourself/4

Age UK – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/care/helping-a-loved-one/caring-dementia/

Dementia Care – http://www.dementiacare.org.uk/services/need-some-advice/carers-support/

Here at Portland Nursing Home, it is our belief that a care home can be a truly positive experience. Whether your loved one needs round the clock nursing or dementia care, our experienced team is here to deliver the highest standard of care in a relaxed and friendly environment.

If you’re interested in hearing more about our home, our team would be happy to talk to you. Contact us on 01359 230773 or email info@portlandnursinghome.co.uk.

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