Living well with dementia: Tips and advice for loved ones

Published on Monday, 24 March 2014 10:25
Written by Vicki Mitchem

Ahead of the Social Care Reform Conference, Anchor's award winning Dementia Consultant Victoria Metcalfe, provides advice on spotting the signs of dementia (symptoms), things that loved ones need to be aware of and how a person can live well with dementia.

Anchor has also produced a guide on how to support a loved one with dementia, which is free and available to download.

The facts about dementia

There are currently 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK with that number set to rise to over one million by 2021.

There are many different types of dementia although Alzheimer's is the most common form.

  • Alzheimer's is progressive, which means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain become damaged
  • An early diagnosis can result in earlier treatment, which for many people can make it easier to live with dementia. There are lots of different ways to slow down the progression and many people can continue to live happy, active lives
  • Broadly, the symptoms associated with dementia are a decline in memory, reasoning and communication skills, a gradual loss of the ability to carry out daily activities and confusion

Anchor's Top tips

There are steps you can take to help a person living with dementia; from securing the right treatment and support, to adapting a persons living environment. Not-for-profit care provider, and dementia specialists, Anchor recommend the following:

  • A GP should always be the first port of call if you or your loved one is showing signs of dementia. If they're reluctant to seek medical help and you are worried about them, you can contact their GP on their behalf
  • Meeting the emotional needs of people living with dementia can be hard. Often a person can have trouble expressing themselves and in order to understand what that person might be saying, first try to consider the context of the question being asked. Look beyond what the person is saying to find the meaning behind the words, and respond to the feelings they may be expressing
  • People with dementia can get confused in their environment, so it's a good idea to make everything easily recognisable. Colour contrasts are often a quick and effective way of helping surroundings to stand out - for example, painting handrails, doors and furniture in different colours
  • Developing 'Life Stories' will enable you to draw on their experiences and aspirations This involves recording relevant aspects of a person's past with the aim of using this information to benefit them in their present situation
  • Engaging in meaningful activities is important to keep stimulated. The activity should be something that the person can be active in, and won't be made to feel like they can no longer take part in a favourite pastime
  • Everything from the way you set up a table, the colour of the table cloths, type of crockery and music played can help to encourage a person to feel comfortable and confident at mealtimes as quite often people with dementia have a poor appetite or can lose interest in food altogether

If you need to consider long term care...

There are lots of different care options available for people living with dementia and it's important to choose the right care for each individual person. It's also good to keep in mind that while a person's symptoms may present themselves a certain way one day, dementia is a progressive condition, so it's good to look for care that can be adapted to changing abilities.

Wherever you look, asking about dementia specialists is a good idea. Anchor's staff are trained to recognise and support the symptoms of dementia and all of its care homes are also supported by a member of the dedicated dementia team. Anchor's newest and award-winning care home, West Hall, specialises in dementia care and is the first English care home to implement a new care model which empowers its residents to control the choices that impact their everyday lives. 

Source: Anchor

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