Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of progressive conditions that affect the brain. The typical features are changes in thinking, memory and mood which can lead to a sense of loss of identity over time. Common types of dementia include Alzheimers and vascular dementia.
If you have been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to remember that you’re still you, even though you have problems with memory, concentration and planning. Everyone experiences dementia differently, and there are many things that might help, including medication. Focusing on the things you can still do and enjoy will help you to stay positive.With the right help and support when you need it, many people can, and do, live well with dementia for several years. Even if life has changed getting out and being social are very important.
If you are looking after a person with dementia, there are many complex issues you might have to tackle if and when they arise. We want you to feel supported as you do this. You may find that as the illness progresses you’ll have to start discussions to get the person to make conversation. This is common. Their ability to process information gets progressively weaker and their responses can become delayed. Click on the buttons below for tips on communication and other aspects of care.
Music, whether that is listening or singing or playing along can be really beneficial to people with dementia. Music therapy reduces agitation and the need for medication in 67% of people with dementia, found a government report on Creative health: The arts for Health and Wellbeing. Why might this be? One famous neurologist gives this answer:
“The past which is not recoverable in any other way is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity. . .” Dr Oliver Sacks
Choosing the right tunes, at a comfortable volume is of course crucial. Here is a radio station that can help: Music for Dementia.
A new resource in Herstmonceux is Ivy House, on the site of Lime Cross nursery. Its website says: “ We provide a varied (and lively!) activities programme that supports our holistic approach to dementia therapy, but also provides family members the necessary support and respite from their often-demanding caring roles with the aid of, family forums as and when you need them, a dedicated monthly support group as well as access to email and telephone support. In addition we have also partnered with others in the community to create our Dementia Café initiative; it’s a free drop-in advice clinic, a place to ask questions, an impartial ear, a chat over a nice cup of coffee…or tea of course!”
Our resident experts for supporting you with dementia and dementia care are Maria who’s role is as a social prescriber, and Sheree our care co-ordinator. The Alzheimer’s Society and DemntiaUK and have lots of information that can help, including details on the progression of dementia, communicating, and physical concerns.