Caring for someone with dementia
Dementia is one of the biggest issues of our time. In the UK there are an estimated 800,000 people living with the condition and one in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia in their lifetime.
With such a high prevalence, it's inevitable that the condition will touch us in some shape or form, either personally or through someone close to us.
What is dementia?
Caused by diseases of the brain, dementia is a progressive condition with a set of symptoms that include loss of memory (often short-term), mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning. Dementia affects individuals differently but it is possible, with the right help and support, to live well with the condition for a number of years.
What can you do if someone you know is diagnosed with dementia?
We all have a role to play in helping improve the lives of someone living with dementia. One way is to become a Dementia Friend. By taking part in a short awareness session face-to-face or online, you can gain a better understanding of what it's like to live with dementia and how to spot it. Whether it's visiting someone you know who has dementia or being patient with someone you meet, it's the little things which can really help improve the lives of someone with the condition, enabling them to live in their community for longer.
For those experiencing dementia now - perhaps you're concerned about a loved one's memory or you're caring for someone with dementia - knowing what to do or where to turn can often be difficult. Anyone who's concerned about dementia is being encouraged not to bottle it up and instead talk to someone - the Alzheimer's Society is a good place to start.
If you think that you, or someone you're close to, may have dementia, you may be worried about reaching out for support for fear of making a fuss. But it's important to seek help as the sooner you know what you are dealing with, the sooner you can feel in control again and get on with life.
What support is available?
The Alzheimer's Society provides a range of services across the UK for all people affected by dementia – including families and carers. This includes:
• Dementia Advisers, who can signpost those living with dementia and their carers to the care and support available
• Dementia Support Workers, who offer support for people with dementia from the point of diagnosis.
Depending on your situation, advisers and support workers can make home visits or recommend local groups you may want to attend. There's also an online forum, Talking Point, which allows people to connect with others and access valuable information and advice, wherever they are.
Talking to people who understand what you're experiencing and having the opportunity to ask questions can be extremely valuable.
You must also remember to look after yourself, as caring for someone with dementia can at times be very difficult. Don't be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. Respite care can give carers a short break and during this time, care in the home of the person with dementia can be arranged.
Anyone looking for confidential advice, information and support can call the Alzheimer's Society's National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22. You can also email enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit alzheimers.org.uk where further information on all of the above and other topics is available.
Here at Mumsnet, we've just launched a new Talk topic for dementia, in partnership with Red & Yellow Care. It's a place to chat with other carers and people affected by dementia, get advice, share experiences and give each other support.
What Mumsnetters say about caring for someone with dementia
- "Dementia is a cruel illness not just for the person with it but for there friends and family too. More awareness needs to happen so people who suffer and their carers and family aren't alone."
- "I found a lot of support from those friends who had been through it themselves, as you don't really understand it till you have."
- "It is a horrible disease and support and information is always welcome, especially from people who are/have been through it with a loved one. "
- "I have found offloading and hearing other people's experiences to be quite therapeutic. Prior to this, with no friends in this situation, I was feeling quite isolated."
While life is often very difficult for dementia sufferers and their families, the condition does remind us to live in the moment and appreciate the little things that make us happy. In honour of Dementia Awareness Week, we rounded up some of Mumsnetters' favourite simple pleasures.
Last updated: almost 2 years ago