Dementia and the Next of kin – What to Do??
The majority of people today are very blind to the disease of Dementia. Often people paint a very bleak picture of the disease that ends with the sufferer being cooped up in a care home or bound to a hospital bed. So much so that most are very uneducated to the fact that you can live a very fulfilling life staying connected with the community and being sociable. Today in the Island of Ireland 55,000 people are living with dementia and more than half are living amongst us in our communities showing us that people can and do live well with dementia.
It is important to stress the dementia is not just associated with the elderly and ageing it can also affect the younger generation. This is why we believe that it is important that you as the next of kin is aware, if someone close to you contracts the disease.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of diseases that affect a person’s brain these can range from Alzheimer’s disease to Vascular Dementia and more. You can learn more about these in particular by heading over to our other blog! Dementia Awareness NI at this link https://carepoint.co.uk/blog/dementia-awareness-northern-ireland/. One of the main issues of dementia and probably the most well-known association to the disease would be that of memory loss. Everyone can be forgetful at some stages whether it is they struggle to put a name to a face or remember where the car is parked. But if you are worried about changes in memory, mood or ability to manage daily life, it is important to do something about it. Although there can be many other reason for some memory loss like Anxiety, Stress, Depression, Stroke and so on. If you are worried for yourself or a loved one, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor as soon as possible. Being diagnosed early can help you get the right treatments and find the best sources of support, as well give you time to important decisions about the future and living with dementia. We also would encourage you to make a note of the changes you have noticed and some examples of the things that are causing you concern. Keep a diary to help you illustrate the problems to the doctor.
Dealing with Dementia
In any family, when somebody develops dementia it can naturally come as a big shock no matter how prepared you felt beforehand. Depending on your family’s attitude towards the disease it can take families longer periods to come to terms with such a big change. There are many tips below that can help with coming to terms with dementia if it is new within your family.
For families new to the disease this can be a very daunting thing to take part it however we have found that this can be the best way to come to terms with the disease. Talking to a doctor and allowing them to explain the diagnosis to your family has found to be a very good coping method to all families both young and old, and can direct them in ways in which they can help the dementia sufferer.
Daily Life and Dementia
There are a number of steps you can take as the next of kin in order to make the daily life of a dementia suffer. These steps can happen gradually or all at once however you feel it may benefit the family member with dementia. Some Tips would be:
- Be patient and allow more time to do things
- Try to keep a routine
- Write things down – keep a diary or use a notebook
- Keep important things in the same place
- Get to know good times of day
Another tip we here at CarePoint would have, if you were willing to undertake you could make your home “Dementia friendly”. What we mean by this is:
The Colour Scheme: Research has shown the impact of colour on a person with dementia. The colours of walls, floors and objects can affect the person’s reality orientation, mood and behaviour. As the person’s colour perception may be weakened, strong colours can be used to emphasise what’s important and compensate for any visual impairments. A dementia sufferer can have difficulties with depth perception meaning that using white on white or brown on brown could upset their mind. An example would be a white toilet and white tied bathroom! To counter act this try using a different coloured toilet seat this can be very helpful! For Dementia sufferers identifying where they are or need to go can also become a mammoth task, to aid with this aspect you could place pictures of the rooms function on the door, for example put a picture off a Knife, Fork and Plate on the kitchen door and so on.
Keep in touch with Support and Services
An abstract from Edel O’Connell’s article on dementia “What should you do if you or a family member has dementia? Here’s some advice from an expert” reads “In many parts of Ireland, there are supports and services that can help. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland provides a range of services for people with dementia and their families. These include dementia advisers, Alzheimer cafés, and social clubs, home care and day and respite services. For more information, you can call the Alzheimer Society of Ireland National Helpline on 1800 341 341 or visit their website”.
We here at CarePoint hope that the above article helps you as the next of kin to deal with your family member suffering with Dementia and improves your knowledge of the disease!