What is dementia?
Dementia is described as a group of symptoms that may include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, and often changes in mood, perception or behaviour. Dementia is progressive, which means that your symptoms will get worse over time. However, many people living with dementia still lead active and fulfilling lives for many years. Dementia can at first feel like a scary and alienating disease, so understanding and supporting those with dementia is critical to help them lead a happy and comfortable life.
What are the early signs of Dementia?
Dementia can begin in many ways, making it difficult at first to diagnose. However, there are a variety of common symptoms that occur in the early stages. These include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Struggling to do daily tasks
- Mood changes
For information on the symptoms and what to do when you think you or someone you know may have dementia, the NHS website has plenty of information and resources on how to help those with early dementia and what the following steps to take are.
What makes our dementia care so effective?
At Bluebird Care North Hampshire, we pride ourselves on being effective at building solid relationships with our customers and their families and involve them in all aspects of a care plan, welcoming their input and responding and adapting accordingly. Our Dementia Care Adviser Tamsin Hudson can offer emotional support and advice to families, providing an insight into how their loved one with dementia perceives the world around them, and how to help them with an early dementia diagnosis.
Our staff are handpicked for their acute level of empathy, their breadth of knowledge and understanding of the condition and its direct effects on family and friends, their caring approach and diligence in performing their duties with both dignity and discretion, and their natural, hands-on approach to every challenge that they face, providing the very best dementia care in your own home.
We offer specialist dementia care focused on managing symptoms while providing emotional support. We understand the challenges of living with dementia and aim to address them. To compliment this service we employ Tamsin Hudson our Dementia Care Adviser who can support your loved no matter where you are in the dementia journey.
Types of Dementia
There are different types of dementia. These are the four main types, Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia and Lewy bodies :
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, it causes brain cells to be surrounded by an abnormal protein and their internal structure also becomes damaged. In time, chemical connections between cells are lost and some cells die. An individual living with Alzheimer’s disease can have lapses in memory, experience difficulties in word finding and have difficulties in understanding what is being said to them.
Vascular dementia is the result of problems with the blood supply to the brain. Nerve cells need oxygen and nutrients from the blood to survive. Without enough blood, these nerve cells will die. An individual living with Vascular dementia will experience difficulty planning, thinking quickly or concentrating.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
Tiny clumps of protein that develop inside nerve cell called Lewy bodies. Protein in the nerve cells reduce the level of chemical messengers and cause nerve cell to die. An induvial with Lewy bodies may have difficulty with planning ahead, reasoning and problem solving.
Frontotemporal dementia is one of the less common forms of dementia. It is sometimes called Pick's disease or frontal lobe dementia. In frontotemporal dementia, a variety of symptoms are caused by damage to different areas of the frontal and temporal lobes. Based on these symptoms and the lobes that are affected a person may have one of three types of frontotemporal dementia.
What are the signs of Dementia?
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These are include diagram:
How do you communicate with a person with Dementia?
Tips for Communicating with a person with Dementia
1. Always have a positive attitude
The person with dementia may have an increased sensitivity to other people’s emotions and feelings, and tends to mirror this. when others are tense and uptight, they feel the same way.
2. Get the person’s attention first
Before speaking, make sure you have eye contact (if they are seated, get down to their level), Address them by name, and use nonverbal cues to help keep them focused. Limit outside noise and distractions
3. Speak slowly and use simple words
Articulate well and use short sentences. If necessary, repeat your message or question, but always be patient in waiting for their reply ( they may fell pressured if you try to speed up their answer). Always try to listen for the meaning and feelings That underlie their words
4. Be respectful of their feelings
Do not ta talk down to them or speak to them as if they were a child. Never ridcule what they say. Instead acknowledge their Anser ( even if it seems out of context) and show them you are paying attention.
5. Use body language and physical contact
Communication isn't just taking. Body language, physical contact, and tone of voice become very significant when a person has difficulity understanding words. A hug, a touch of hands, and a friendly tone of voice will likely help to reassure them
6. When all else fails, SMILE
Instead of getting frustrated when the person with dementia does something that seems perfectly normal to them, and foolish to you, just smile. A smile will take the edge off any situation.
Dementia meal tips
- Offering a range of tastes, textures, colours and smells and serving food on aesthetically pleasing crockery can increase its attractiveness and stimulate appetite. It’s important to remember that the presentation of meals is just important as the taste of the food itself.
- Variety is the key to increasing food intake-people eat 50 % more food if there is variety. Although it can be beneficial to have a weekly meal plan to stick to, a few little treats now and again can help to excite taste buds and make meal times an occasion to look forward to.
- If appetite is low, eating ‘little and often’ can be a good solution, and also help to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel.
- Take the time to make a list of favourite foods that have positive associations (ie. ice cream that recaptures fond memories of summers past etc.) Incorporate foods from this list into the diet now and again can be a great way of helping with memory recollection and ensure that meal plans remain inspiring.
- When meal intake declines, often due to a lack of appetite, or reduced ability to swallow, it’s a good idea to try and incorporate more easily digestible foods into the diet. Nutritious alternatives like soups, avocados and bananas are all good options, and are packed with vital vitamins and nutrients as well.