More About Dementia

Taking a brief look at dementia …

Research shows that we’re all going to live longer. There are currently over 800,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this figure is expected to rise to over one million by 2021. Many of us have a relative, friend of colleague with dementia – It’s estimated that around 25 million people know someone who is living with dementia. About one in every twenty people over 65 have dementia. By the age of 80, approximately one in five will have some degree of dementia.

Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells.

Dementia is the term used for a set of symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by diseases. Damage caused by a dementia disease affects the ability of the brain cells to communicate with each other. This lack of communication can disrupt a person’s normal thinking and behaviour.

With over 100 types of dementia, the prospect for people with early diagnosis or for their families, friends or colleagues, can be daunting. The most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease: protein plaques and tangles develop in the brain, killing off brain cells and causing loss of memory, confusion and mood swings. Alzheimer’s affects over 500,000 people in the UK.

Vascular Dementia, the second most common dementia is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain and often occurs after a stroke. Dementia with Lewy Bodies creates problems with attentiveness, alertness and orientation as Lewy Bodies [tiny spherical protein deposits found in nerve cells] interrupt chemical messaging processes in the brain.

Recognising dementia symptoms or characteristics could be invaluable when caring for members of our families and communities who may be experiencing difficulties when participating in everyday tasks, occurrences or events.

Some brief warning signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts common tasks or daily life
  • Planning, following plans or solving problems
  • Reasoning – Losing ability to process thoughts easily – remembering rules of a game
  • Forgetfulness – disorientation – confusion with time or location
  • Looking for reassurance – following or repeating
  • Mood and behaviour changes – anxiety – fear – suspicion
  • Difficulties with communication – finding the right word
  • Sleep patterns may change
  • Withdrawal from work, hobbies or clubs

Other reasons for temporary memory loss or feelings of delirium can include stress, lack of vitamins, constipation. If you feel that you, a relative or friend are worried about experiencing repeated memory problems, arrange to see a doctor for simple memory and/or blood tests.

If you are caring for someone who is living with dementia, spending time participating in meaningful activities can become a stimulating and enjoyable shared experience. Activities don’t need to be complicated. Sometimes, talking or looking at photographs and remembering is enough.

An interesting and fun way to share time together could be recording a person’s life history. Validating life can be rewarding and help to furnish a sense of achievement. Choose from Happy Days ~ My Memory Jogger* [remembering my life] or All About Me* [my interests and favourites] ~ It couldn’t be easier ~ colourful pages, themes, prompts and response areas help you and the person you care for recall and record a life story in words and pictures. Generate hours of conversation and interactivity whilst producing an interesting and fascinating keepsake.

Taking part in activities based on the interests and abilities of a person with dementia [at all stages] may significantly increase quality of life. Happy Days range of colourful picture and text memory prompts can help families, carers, volunteers and visitors initiate conversation and prompt participation when spending time with someone who is living with dementia. Choose from World War II MemoriesPeople We KnowButterflies & BloomsPets & Cute AnimalsRecognise Everyday Objects.

Happy Days products are designed especially to assist social interaction, enhance shared moments, encourage a sense of achievement and boost well-being. Please visit Dementia Workshop to browse materials for carers, volunteers, residential care, families and friends.

Young Carers – Schools Student Support – SEN resources and materials, visit: www.happydayspublishing.co.uk