This Dementia Action Week (17th - 23rd May 2021), we want to talk about what it is like to live with dementia, and the specialist dementia support that we offer in our care homes.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
When we think of dementia, most people think of memory loss - perhaps being unable remember a name or word for something, or not recognising someone they know well. They may also struggle to retain new memories, meaning that they might be able to clearly remember something that happened in their childhood, but not recall what they had for breakfast the same day. These are symptoms of dementia, but they are not the only ones. Other symptoms include difficulties with problem-solving, vision, language and changes in mood or behaviour.
What causes dementia?
Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain, the most commonly recognised disease is Alzheimer’s, but with over 100 different types of dementia, we recognise just how complicated this disease can be in diagnosis, treatment and support.
The location of the damage to the brain from the disease will determine the affect on the individual's everyday life, with different individuals affected in different ways. The Dementia Friends network explains this by way of a string of fairy lights, with each light representing a different area of the brain, which in turn represents a different skill, memory or function. When the brain is damaged by disease, some of these lights may flicker, dim or go out altogether, affecting the individual's ability to think, understand, remember or do something. No two people living with dementia will be affected in exactly the same way, and something that one person might find easy, another might find extremely difficult. This is why it is so important to offer person-centred support to help individuals live well with dementia.
This video from Alzheimer's Society helps to explain the science behind the symptoms. Please click on the image to watch the video.
Who can be affected by dementia?
There is no known cure for dementia, and symptoms often become progressively worse and more visible with time. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that many people associate dementia with the elderly.
Whilst it's true that dementia mainly affects people aged 65 or over, dementia can actually affect anyone of any age. Just as liver disease or kidney disease are not age-specific, neither is brain disease. Anyone of any age can be affected by brain disease, and therefore live with dementia. Alzheimer's Society estimates that of the 850,000 people in the UK currently living with dementia, more than 42,000 are under the age of 65.
Can dementia be treated?
Whilst there is no known cure for dementia, some of its symptoms can be treated with medication and person-centred care.
Person-centred or person-led care is about recognising the person living with dementia as an individual with individual needs, and supporting them to live the life they choose.
A person living with dementia is just that - a person first, who happens to experience the symptoms of dementia. Just like someone living with an illness of any kind, a person living with dementia doesn't stop having hobbies, interests and things that they enjoy - they just might need a little more support to be able to do the things they love.
Person-led care puts the person first, and helps them to live a full and fulfilling life regardless of the condition that they live with.
What dementia support does Somerset Care offer?
All 27 of our Somerset Care homes are dementia-friendly, and our experienced team are trained to help people to live well with dementia. Many of our care settings also have specialist 'Petals' dementia wings and care suites, which have been designed to help our residents living with dementia to be as independent as possible, within the safety and security of our homes.
Petals stands for:
- Life history
These values and actions are the basis of the support that we provide for those in our care who are living with dementia. We offer person-led dementia support, listening to our residents and their loved ones to understand and meet their individual needs, and help them to maintain life skills, no matter where they are on their dementia journey.
Our dementia support is based on 20 years' worth of research with our university partners in Exeter and Bradford, and we use a dementia care mapping tool to check the quality of the support and care we provide.
Find out more
To discuss the tailored dementia support that we can offer you or those you know who live with dementia, please contact our knowledgeable enquiries team on 0800 8174 990, email [email protected], or search for our care homes near you.