When people hear the word dementia, it is easy to jump to conclusions about what it is and what happens. We have put together this guide to help you with understanding the disease and how to find resources and information.
Spotting the symptoms of Dementia
The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or speech and language problems.
These changes are often small to start with, but for something with dementia they become severe enough to affect every day life.
A person with dementia may also experience change in their moods and behaviours. In the UK alone there are approximately 850,000 people suffering with dementia.
We go in to this in more detail in our article on the Early Signs of Dementia
What causes Dementia?
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia but not all dementia is due to Alzheimer’s. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia can experience will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the type of disease that is causing the dementia.
Be prepared and early diagnosis
Getting an early diagnosis can help in some cases where there are drugs that can delay the progression of the disease.
Contacting organisations such as Alzheimers Society, Dementia UK, Carers UK will help you understand how to cope with elderly parents.
They provide practical guides, information on how to look after your parents; there are online forums and local support groups for both patients and carers.
In particular, Dementia UK has published a very informative booklet on support for everyone in the family about coping with dementia. Also, check out the NHS site which also has lots of useful information.
Understanding the situation
It’s the small things that can throw you off balance, such as an elderly parent forgetting who you are, walking around in the middle of the night, losing their temper for no reason or losing interest in something that they have always been passionate about.
Many things may change for the person but their life shouldn’t be determined just because of their condition. There are other factors aside from the symptoms of dementia that play a huge role in shaping someone’s experience. These include the relationships the person has, their environment and the support they receive.
Click here for a checklist of ideas for coping with looking after someone with dementia and understanding dementia better.
Resources and help available
Alzheimer’s Society provides all the information for care and support for your elderly parent. For more information on understanding dementia and the support near you check out the website.
Dementia UK gives information on the different types of dementia, and has excellent resources to help you support your elderly parent.
Dementia UK provide specialist Dementia nurses, who provide extraordinary care for the whole family. You can search their website to see if there is an Admiral Nurse close by.
Carers UK supports families with all kinds of caring situations. We Connect is their online community, enabling people to discuss their caring options and personal experiences. It has a National Carers Strategy which is worth looking at.
Unforgettable is an amazing site for anyone with a relative who has dementia. It has an online shop offering a wide range of products to help your parent at home with different stages of their dementia. For a step forward in understanding dementia with Unforgettable check out the site. It has excellent advice and information including it’s very own online community forum, giving you the chance to join and meet others in a similar situation to you. As well as having a blog for you to stay up to date with all the news and articles on dementia.
The NHS offers great resources for additional information on understanding dementia. From why it’s important in getting a early dementia diagnosis, to finding activities for the elderly with dementia.
The site provides information on memory cafes, sensory gardens and singing groups which have all been proven to significantly help calm elderly who are experiencing dementia.