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Dementia

Dementia
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Many of is will have friends and family members suffering from dementia. In order to properly care for them it’s important to understand what dementia is.

What is dementia?

The term dementia is used to describe a series on symptoms that indicate there has been some damage to the brain. Symptoms can include; forgetfulness, difficulties with thinking or expressing yourself and changes to moods and behaviour. These symptoms usually appear gradually and worsen over time. Alzheimer’s disease often goes hand in hand with dementia, not all cases of dementia are down to Alzheimer’s. In some cases it will be another disease, such as Pick’s disease, or a series of strokes that has caused the damage to the brain.

Symptoms

The symptoms of dementia vary from person to person, this will also depend on the area of the brain that has become damaged and the disease that has caused it. However, common symptoms include memory loss, indecisiveness, lack of concentration, language difficulties and disorientation. Changes in mood can make someone suffering from dementia irritable, anxious and sad. Some sufferers may also experience delusions and hallucinations.

How many people get dementia?

The Alzheimer’s Society say there are currently around 850,000 living with dementia in the UK. Of these, around 40,000 are under the age of 65. Dementia is most often found in older people, with one in 14 over 65s having it. The condition affects men and women equally.

Diagnosis

DementiaGetting an early diagnosis is important, it allows the person and their family to make important choices about the future as well as getting treatment and support available. The first port of call should be a GP, they will ask about symptoms, conduct a physical examination, take some blood samples and perhaps ask a few mental agility questions. You may then be referred to a specialist who will organise some further tests, which may include a brain scan. If you are diagnosed with dementia the doctor will take the time to explain the condition to you and your family, going through what it might mean and the next steps that can be taken. You might want to write down any questions you have or medical terms used by the doctors so that you don’t forget them.

Living with dementia

Being diagnosed with dementia can come as a huge shock to a person and the people close to them, even if the condition was suspected. Over time, symptoms should be expected to get worse, this usually happens gradually so people with dementia should be encouraged to carry on being as independent as possible. Hobbies and interests are enjoyable and also help stimulate the brain and keep people alert. Being in their own home can help people manage the condition, with the help of family, community nurses and paid health workers, many are able to remain at home for a long time.

At some point, you may have to make the decision to live in a residential care home. Visit a few to get a feel for each one, find out how well equipped they are to look after dementia patients. If and when the time comes try to make the room as familiar as possible, bringing things like photographs and ornaments from home.

Support

Whether you have dementia or you’re caring for someone who does, you may feel you need some extra support. There is plenty of help available through local councils, the NHS and voluntary organisations. A quick internet search will let you know what’s available in your area. A health and social care assessment will determine whether you qualify for things like home adaptations or day centre attendance. Social media is a great way to find people in similar situations. These people can become valuable sources of help and support, especially out of hours.

 

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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