Posted on 20/05/2016

Caring for someone with dementia

Caring for someone with dementia

When a friend or family member has dementia, it can feel like they’re disappearing before your eyes. The person you know and love seems lost behind a mask and you want to peel back that layer to reveal who they used to be. As part of Dementia Awareness Week, we’ve written a short guide to help you better understand the workings of different types and how you can help those who are living through it.

How is dementia defined?

Dementia is a disease of the brain associated with an ongoing decline of the mind’s abilities. This includes problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental agility
  • Language
  • Understanding
  • Judgement

Types of dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of diseases that affect the brain. There are many different types which have different causes.

Some of the more common types include Alzheimer’s Disease (most common), Vascular dementia, Mixed dementia (often Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia together), Dementia with Lewy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia (including Pick’s disease).

Alzheimer’s Disease
As the most common cause of dementia, those living with Alzheimer’s Disease experience problems with day-to-day memory and often find it difficult to find the right words, solve problems, make decisions, or perceive things in three dimensions.

Vascular dementia
The symptoms of vascular dementia often overlap with those associated with Alzheimer’s Disease including difficulties with problem-solving or planning, thinking quickly and concentrating. Symptoms can occur suddenly following one large stroke, or over time through a series of small strokes or damage to small blood vessels deep in the brain.

Mixed dementia
This is when someone has more than one type of dementia, and a mixture of symptoms. It is common for someone to have Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia together.

Dementia with Lewy bodies
Early symptoms can include fluctuating alertness, difficulties with judging distances and hallucinations. It is closely related to Parkinson’s disease and often has some of the same symptoms, including difficulty with movement.

Frontotemporal dementia (including Pick’s disease)
Changes in personality and behaviour may be the first, most obvious signs of frontotemporal dementia. Depending on where the damage is, the person may have difficulties with fluent speech or may forget the meaning of words or objects.

As these diseases progress and affect more of the brain, they become more similar in their symptoms. It’s generally the early stage symptoms which differ and give clues as to what type of dementia someone has.

What to expect after diagnosis

Once a GP or other healthcare professional has diagnosed someone with dementia, they will decide whether any symptoms can be reduced through medication or whether the use of medication could slow down the progression of the disease (this is only appropriate in some situations).

Other options which can help improve quality of life include:

  • Talking therapy
  • Compensatory aids
  • Memory rehabilitation techniques
  • Support groups
  • Individualised care

Which products are can help improve memory and safety?

Daily Pill Reminder and Timer - Ideal for those who need prompting to take their medication.
Dementia care day/night clock - Helps users to distinguish between day time and night time.
Memrabel 2 Dementia Care Aid - Helps those with poor memory to remember daily tasks by using video, image and audio messaging.
Magiplug Flood and Scald Protection Plug - Prevents flooding and scalding for those prone to leaving water running and forgetting to turn off taps.

How to engage better with a friend or loved one

If you know someone with dementia and would like to engage with them more, our FREE, printable Conversation Cards can help. Many of the questions are based on finding out more about someone's past, which is perfect for a lot of people living with dementia as their long term memory is often less affected than their short term.

Conversation Cards 1

Conversation Cards 2

Conversation Cards 3

Conversation Cards 4

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.