In recognition of Dementia Action Week and Mental Health Awareness Week, we take a look at what Dementia is, the support services available to both somebody living with a Dementia diagnosis and their carers and how to ensure, as a Carer, that you are also looking after yourself
What is Dementia?
‘Dementia’ describes a range of progressive symptoms, including memory loss, which leads to a continued decline of brain functioning. Research shows that there are over 850,000 people in the UK who have Dementia. There is currently no cure for dementia, however there are treatments that can help to slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.
A CARER’S PERSPECTIVE
As a carer for someone with dementia, you may experience a range of emotions, including grief, anger, frustration, and guilt. It is important to remember that these feelings are normal and that you are not alone.
Group support for carers
There are many other resources available to help you cope with the challenges of caring for someone with dementia, the most helpful may be groups of people who are facing similar challenges. Have a look at alzheimers.org.uk for local support groups [https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/your-local-dementia-support-services].
Being a Dementia carer
Becoming a carer for a loved one after a dementia diagnosis is not easy. The onset may be swift, or you may have time to gradually get used to it.
One of the most important things you can do as a carer is to provide emotional support to your effected loved one. This means listening to them, being patient, and understanding that they may not always be able to remember things or make decisions for themselves. It is also important to help them maintain their independence as much as possible. This may involve providing assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating.
Care for yourself too
It is, however, important to find a balance between providing care and taking care of yourself. Caring for someone with dementia can be a demanding and stressful experience, so it is important to try to make time for yourself to recharge if possible.
Resources to help with Dementia
There are many resources available to help carers of people with dementia. These resources can provide information, support, and practical advice.
Some of the resources available include:
- The Alzheimer’s Society: The Alzheimer’s Society brings people with dementia, carers, researchers and campaigners together to provide information and support for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and their loved ones.
- Age UK: Age UK conducts and supports research on ageing and age-related diseases. Their website provides information on dementia and other age-related conditions.
- The Mental Health Foundation: The Mental Health Foundation provides support and advocacy for people with all types of mental illness and their families.
Once again, if you are caring for someone with dementia, you should know that you are not alone.
There are many resources available to help you cope with the challenges of caregiving. Don’t be ashamed to talk to one of those organisations if you need to, that’s why they’re there.
The importance of setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney
In addition to providing emotional and practical support, a carer will also need to manage the practical aspects of caring for someone with dementia. This may include managing finances and medical care.
Being next of kin does not give you the legal right to make medical or financial choices for someone else, so it is immensely helpful to you if you have agreed on a Lasting Power of Attorney to allow you to care for your loved ones.
We have a number of resources covering LPAs:
LIVING WITH DEMENTIA
Living with dementia can be a challenging and isolating experience. As the disease progresses, you may find that you are losing your memory, your ability to think clearly, and your independence. This can be a very frightening and frustrating time.
It is important to remember that you too are not alone.
Help groups and resources
There are many people who are going through a very similar experience to you. And because of this, there are also many resources available to help you and those around you to cope with the challenges of your dementia diagnosis.
Ways of dealing with symptoms?
One of the most important things you can do is to stay connected with your loved ones.
Let them know what you are going through and ask for their support.
There are also many community groups available for people with dementia and their families. These groups can provide a safe place to share your experiences and learn from other dementia sufferers.
Visit Find support near you | Alzheimer’s Society (alzheimers.org.uk) for more information on support groups near you.
You should try to stay active and engaged in your life as much as possible. This may mean continuing to work, volunteering, or pursuing hobbies that you enjoy. Staying active can help to keep your mind sharper and your spirits up.
Other ways of dealing with Dementia
If you are struggling to cope with dementia, please reach out for help. There are many people who care about you and want to help. There are also many resources available these days to help you.
Some additional tips for dealing with your dementia:
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
- Stay as organised as possible. Create a system for keeping track of your appointments, medications, and other important information. Remember to talk your loved ones through it, so they can help if you get overwhelmed.
- Simplify your life. Get rid of clutter and simplify your routines as much as possible.
- Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help from your loved ones, friends, or professional carers.
Dementia is a challenging and frustrating disease, but as usual, it is important to remember that you are never alone.
There are many people who care about you and want to help. With the right support, you can continue to live a full and meaningful life with dementia.