The Alzheimer’s Society estimate that by 2040, 1.6million people in the UK could be living with dementia. It is a growing concern with devastating consequences for families and loved ones.
If you are caring for individuals who suffer with dementia, it’s natural that you want to provide the best possible care and support for them. Here is a basic intro to dementia care for home carers.
What is Dementia?
Dementia isn’t a single disease or condition, but instead is a blanket term that refers to a group of specific medical conditions that affect brain function. The changes in brain function are severe enough to affect cognitive ability and the day-to-day life of the sufferer. Dementia is most common in people aged over 65, but early onset of these conditions can happen to those as young as in their 30s.
How does Dementia affect individuals?
How dementia affects an individual is down to the type of condition they are experiencing and the advancement of it within their brain. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of the condition and is responsible for about 70% of all cases. Other types of dementia include Vascular Dementia, caused by bleeding or blood vessel blockage in the brain and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, which occurs in those already living with Parkinson’s.
Dementia attacks and damages brain cells, and often different types of dementia are responsible for the destruction of cells in different areas of the brain.
The most common side effects of dementia are cognitive. These include memory loss (short term and long term), lack of social awareness, severe mood swings, depression and confusion.
Most types of dementia are progressive, so will worsen over time. Although incurable, dementia is not entirely untreatable, and those who are able to identify and acknowledge the issues early on are often able to continue with their lives just fine throughout the early and moderate stages.
What sort of support could Dementia sufferers require?
There are plenty of dementia care options available for those suffering with the condition/s.
Healthcare options for those with dementia can include medication to help ease the cognitive symptoms of the conditions. Each pharmaceutical is different, but generally speaking, these work to help improve memory retention, stabilise mood and better regulate the part of the brain that processes information. A doctor or neurologist will be able to advise and prescribe appropriate medication.
Homecare options can include a dedicated carer visiting the patient’s home to help them with day-to-day tasks that they find difficult to complete by themselves. Dementia care options at home allow dignity for the client and cover a broad definition of the word ‘care’. Carer responsibilities can include the administering of medication, cooking, shopping, reading, household duties and personal care and hygiene duties.
Caring for someone with Dementia can be challenging
If you’re providing dementia care for someone, it can be a challenging and frustrating responsibility. Patients can become very angry, upset or confused very quickly, and are unable to retain information well – so basic instructions can fall by the wayside and make for frustrating and even dangerous situations. There are workarounds for this, but it is undoubtedly a challenge.
In more severe stages of dementia, patients may even forget or not recognise members of their own family, their friends, and the carers who look after them day-in, day-out. This can be difficult if they become frightened of their carer needlessly, but some patience and persistence is key to help win them around and continue to nurture and look after them.
What are the best ways of dealing with a Dementia sufferer?
It is imperative when caring for someone with dementia that you stay mindful of the person under the disease – they have a history, a family, a personality, hobbies and a whole long life story to tell. Dementia sadly masks this, and it can dehumanise them to a point that they are unrecognisable. Finding beauty and uncovering the person underneath is key to staying calm, patient and compassionate.
Dementia sufferers often struggle with changes in routine, so if you’re able to, dementia care should follow a schedule and rarely deviate from the ‘norm’, keeping the client feeling safe and secure at all times.
It is rewarding to support somebody with Dementia
It is hugely rewarding to know that you are giving dignity and integrity to someone living with a condition that will strip them of so much. The journey will not be linear and there will be no miracle cure, but sparks of beauty and compassion will shock you and make you smile as you go.
Are you interested in a job in home care? Find out more about working in home care and the opportunities that we have available in and around Epsom at AM2PM Quality Care.