There are currently over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with this number expected to rise to over one million by 2025.
According to a recent study, over half of those living with dementia (55 per cent) are in the mild stages.
This means that although their symptoms will be noticeable, a person living with mild dementia can still be fairly independent and should be able to do most things, either in a different way than before or with a little bit of help.
We invited RMBI Care Co.’s Pharmacy and Dementia Specialist Lead, Anne Child, to explain dementia and how we can support people living with the disease.
What is dementia?
A common misconception of dementia is that it’s a disease of old age and only relates to memory loss. It is well known that the biggest risk factor for dementia is age, but there are over 42,000 people under 65 living with dementia in the UK.
Dementia is a progressive degenerative disease; a disruption in the brain that starts slowly and gradually worsens overtime, touching every area of a person’s life.
This makes dementia an extremely difficult condition to live with, as it can affect people’s ability to do the most basic everyday activities.
How do you get dementia?
Science is still looking for the precise cause of the disease and a treatment to prevent it. What we do know is there are some ways in which you can help reduce the risks associated with vascular dementia, such as looking after your general health and wellbeing, particularly in your 40s and 50s.
Unfortunately, this does not apply for other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, where the causes are still unknown.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
A person’s experience of living with dementia will be unique and individual to them. In fact, people with dementia may only have the diagnosis and a few symptoms in common, such as memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or speaking.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one might have dementia, the first thing you should do is visit your GP for an initial screening.
Other treatable conditions have similar symptoms to some of the early signs of dementia, so your GP may send you to a memory clinic for more thorough testing.
How can you support someone with dementia?
Knowing how to support people living with dementia is a continuous learning process, as everyone’s experience is different.
We have to take care of every individual in a holistic way – medically, emotionally and socially.
For example, supporting people to stay connected to friends and family; encouraging them to find a new hobby; or putting signs around their house to help them in their daily life, can help people living with dementia to maintain their independence for as long as possible.
It’s essential to support not only the individual person affected, but their carer too. Carers often have a huge responsibility for the person they are caring for, which can affect their mental health and wellbeing.
What is RMBI Care Co. doing to support people with dementia?
At RMBI Care Co, we are aware that residents with dementia need care and support from professional staff in a homely environment.
Barford Court in Hove is one of our homes that provides a dedicated Dementia Support House to care for residents with dementia in a welcoming environment, where they can enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities.
The home is carefully designed, paying attention to sensory items – colourful and comfortable furniture, tactile cushions, soft lighting in communal areas and background music.
We encourage a culture of understanding people with dementia in all our homes; this helps our residents to live with dignity and maintain their independence for as long as possible, as well as helping them to engage in meaningful activities.
In 2017, we started a partnership with Alzheimer’s Society to incorporate their ‘Dementia Friends’ scheme into our staff induction training. Becoming a Dementia Friend means that you learn a little more about dementia so you can help people within your community, and we’re pleased to say we now have over 400 Dementia Friends within RMBI Care Co.