Care for Dementia

If you or a family member are diagnosed with dementia, it can feel overwhelming. The diagnosis will inevitably lead to changes in lifestyle for the whole family. At Pairly, we want to help you to prepare for this. We recognise the need for support with organising care at home finding sources of help, symptoms and diagnosis. With this in mind, we have created this essential guide to dementia with some further resources to help you plan your next steps.

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What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term covering a group of symptoms associated with brain function decline. Including (and is not exclusive of); problems with how we perceive the world around us, how we remember our past, the language we use, changes in mood, behaviour and emotions

There are over 200 different types of dementia. These include; Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. The symptoms may be mild a first, but dementia is a progressive disease and may worsen over time.

Dementia affects a person's ability to remember, think and speak by stopping their neurone (brain cells) from working effectively in specific areas.

Doctors use the word "dementia" to describe common symptoms (link to symptoms section) – such as loss of memory, lapses in concentration, difficulty with words and conversation, confusion about place and time – that get progressively worse over time.

Dementia can affect anyone of any age, but is more prolific in people aged 65 or above.

What are the symptoms of Dementia, and how is it diagnosed?

There are several different types of dementia, and people will experience symptoms differently.

Sometimes before a diagnosis of dementia, there are some common early symptoms to be aware of, including:Loss of memory

  • Having difficulty carrying out daily tasks

  • Concentration lapses

  • Confusion about place and time

  • Struggling with words and conversation

  • Changes in mood

These symptoms are often diagnosed as Mild Cognitive impairment (MCI) because they are not severe enough to be described as dementia.

It is important to note that MCI does not always lead to dementia. For some people, it does, so it is always best to visit a GP early.

In the later stages of dementia, the symptoms become more severe, a person's self-care and health might become neglected, requiring continuous care from professionals.

Common symptoms of advanced dementia include:

  • Incontinence

  • Appetite and weight loss

  • Forgetting who people are, where they are, or where they live - can be incredibly distressing for loved ones caring for people with dementia.

  • Behavioural symptoms include; aggression, depression, wandering and anxiety.

  • Communication and mobility problems

This list is an overview. Please see the NHS site for a full breakdown of the different types of dementia and associated symptoms

Dementia Diagnosis

Diagnosis starts with your GP. If you or someone you love is experiencing recurring memory problems, or you are concerned about changes you've noticed in communication, behaviour, or personality, go and see your GP. An early diagnosis can be invaluable; it allows for an explanation of symptoms, access to treatment, support and advice. It also helps your family plan for the future and assess what help you might need.

Living well with Dementia

There are many challenges to living well with dementia. These can be emotional, social and practical. It can be challenging to maintain relationships and activities outside of the home and keep you or your loved one safe inside the home.

Here are some tips for living well with dementia:

Stay healthy and eat well

It may seem obvious, but eating well and exercising can fall by the wayside when a lot is happening—being physically well is good for mental wellbeing.

  • Exercise/move as much as possible - walking, gardening, chair yoga are all great light exercises.

  • Drink lots of fluids

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

  • Get lots of sleep

  • Look out for signs of depression and make sure they are raised with a GP

Stay social

Maintaining relationships and participating in activities can help with mental wellbeing and confidence.

  • Find dementia-friendly groups, like memory cafes

  • Engage in social activities with others

  • Look out for dementia-friendly activities locally

  • See friends and family

  • Go to the movies or join a walking group

Let people who are close know about your dementia diagnosis.

When it feels right, it's best to let people know about a dementia diagnosis. If people know how to help, inevitably, they will.

When you tell people around you, try to explain the diagnosis so they can easily offer help and support.

Tips for managing day to day life with dementia:

  • Have a regular routine

  • Make sure the home is dementia safe

  • Put keys in an obvious place

  • Use a timetable or a calendar

Organising care at home

A dementia diagnosis can be life-changing. It is a complex illness that might find you needing support looking after yourself or your loved one. When searching for a care provider, look out for those who have specialist dementia care.

There are lots of different types of care to be aware of, such as;

  • Residential care homes

  • Live-in care in your own home

  • Domiciliary care - carers that come at the times you need them

  • Night care

  • Emergency care

Carers can provide; meal preparation, assistance around the house, companionship, social support, recreational support and help with errands and domestic administration.

Further advice on what kind of care would suit you.

Help and further resources

We have created a comprehensive list of resources for further reading.

The Dementia Guide

NHS Dementia Guide

Dementia FAQs

What is the difference between Alzheimer's and Dementia?

If you wonder what the difference is between Alzheimer's and Dementia, don't worry. You are not alone. In short, dementia is the umbrella term for a specific group of diseases, all of which contribute to a severe decline of brain function.

Alzheimer's refers to one form of Dementia; Alzheimer's and vascular dementia are the most common forms.

Is dementia hereditary?

There is no definitive answer to why some people get dementia and others don't. A few genes can cause dementia that can be passed down, but this is rare. However, most types of dementia are not passed down through the family.

What are the early signs of dementia?

Sometimes, before a diagnosis of dementia, there are some common early symptoms to be aware of, including:

  • Memory loss

  • Difficulty carrying out day-to-day tasks

  • Lapses in concentration

  • Confusion

  • Struggling with words and conversation

  • Mood changes

These symptoms are often diagnosed as Mild Cognitive impairment (MCI) because they are not severe enough to be described as dementia. It is important to note that MCI does not always lead to dementia. For some people, it does, so it is always best to visit a GP early.