Dementia Care in Harrogate, Ripon, Wetherby
Dementia is an incurable condition caused by diseases of the brain which over time seriously impacts upon the ability of someone to live independently. There are over 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK today and by 2025 there are expected to be over 1 million. The condition primarily affects people over the age of 65 and risk increases with age, however it can affect younger people and there are over 16,000 people under the age of 65 who have dementia. Although public awareness of dementia is now high, understanding of it remains very poor and few people appreciate what help is available to live well with dementia.
Causes of dementia
There are several diseases and conditions that result in dementia which include those outlined below:
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. During the course of this disease the chemistry and structure of the brain change resulting in the death of brain cells. A common noticeable sign is problems with short-term memory
- Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia and is caused by problems with the supply of blood to the brain. Symptoms can occur suddenly, following a stroke or over time following series of small strokes
- Dementia with Lewy bodies affects approximately 10% of elderly people who suffer from dementia and shares some characteristics with Parkinson's disease. It is caused by the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain’s nerve cells which disrupt normal functioning. This form of dementia may affect memory to a lesser degree but symptoms can include disorientation and hallucinations, as well as problems with planning, reasoning and problem solving
- Fronto-temporal dementia covers a range of conditions, including Picks disease, frontal lobe degeneration and dementia associated with motor neurone disease. These are caused by damage to the frontal lobe and / or temporal parts of the brain which are responsible for our behavior, emotional responses and language skills. Fronto-temporal dementia is a relatively uncommon for of dementia
Symptoms of dementia
Dementia is progressive and as such symptoms may gradually get worse over time. Example symptoms to look out for include:
- Loss of memory, in particular short-term memory such as forgetting events from earlier in the day, not being able to recall conversations, repeating things or losing the thread of what you are saying, or forgetting the way home. Often long-term memory remains good
- Mood changes making people with dementia withdrawn, sad, frightened or angry
- Communication problems including difficulty finding the right words such as describing the function of an item rather than naming it
If you or a loved one are worried about memory you should contact your GP who will address your concerns and arrange for further investigation if appropriate. You may be referred to a local memory clinic or specialist for assessment where a formal diagnosis can take place. If a specialist is involved, this may be a geriatrician, a neurologist or a psychiatrist. A number of tests will be carried out to check basic thinking processes and the ability to perform daily tasks, and sometimes further tests may be requested such as a brain scan or a more in-depth assessment of memory, concentration and thinking skills.
Be aware that there are many reasons for memory loss apart from dementia (such as depression). However, the earlier help is sought the better as a diagnosis is always helpful in planning for the future and with treatment and support many people with dementia can continue to live an active and fulfilling life.
Professional dementia care
At Carefound we are experienced in providing specialist dementia care and all of our professional home carers receive training in dementia. We firmly believe that, where appropriate, offering people who suffer from dementia the opportunity to remain in the familiarity of their own home with tailored support from a trusted home carer enables them to retain independence and a high quality of life.
In helping our clients remain at home we are collaborating with the Contented Dementia Trust to introduce and adopt their specialist approach to caring for people with dementia called the SPECAL method.
The SPECAL method treats dementia as a disability and works positively with it, rather than trying to ignore or defeat it. It has been shown to:
- Increase the person’s confidence and thereby slow the rate of deterioration
- Reduce the need for medication
- Enable the person to remain in their own home for significantly longer
- Minimise the distress all too often seen during and after a transition into a different care setting
At the heart of the SPECAL Method is an innovative way of understanding dementia from the point of view of the person with the condition - the SPECAL Photograph Album. This leads to a counter-intuitive but essential set of principles known as SPECAL sense, a way of communicating with the person with dementia that immediately reduces stress for everyone concerned. Carefound is now introducing training in the general principles of the SPECAL method across its home care team to ensure that all its clients can benefit.
SPECAL sense begins with three Golden Rules (don’t ask questions; listen to the expert; don’t contradict). These basic rules apply to each and every person with dementia and will make a remarkable difference as soon as they are introduced, but they are not enough to sustain well-being for life. Each person’s life history is different and individualized profiling will be required to sustain well-being lifelong. Profiling demands a complex mix of skills and experience, and Carefound is working with the Contented Dementia Trust to integrate the necessary training into its current programme.
The conditions regarded as essential for well-being according to the Contented Dementia Trust are:
- Personal worth: The feeling that one is valued
- A sense of control: Being able to make decisions and see that they are implemented
- Social ease: Being able to feel comfortable in interaction with others and share a social space
- Trust and confidence: The feeling that all will be well in the end
We have experience of working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, including with other health professionals such as specialist mental health teams, and fully appreciate the importance of a co-ordinated approach in helping our clients.