Living with Dementia
Whether it is you, a loved one, relative or friend, receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be worrying and difficult to accept. It is vital to understand that, following diagnosis, it is still perfectly possible to continue to lead an active, happy and fulfilled life.
Dementia is not a specific disease of the brain; it is a collective term for a number of different conditions which may damage areas of the brain, affecting memory and causing cognitive impairment.
There are more than one hundred different types of dementia, the commonest including Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia (caused by a restricted blood flow to the brain possibly arising after one or more strokes), Dementia with Lewy bodies (small deposits of protein which form within the brain) and frontotemporal dementia which results from damage to, or the shrinkage of, the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes. In less common cases, the onset of dementia may arise from an infection of the brain such as encephalitis, a head injury or a brain tumour.
If you or someone close to you has dementia, you are not alone. Currently more than 800,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and this number is likely to increase over the next two to three decades. However, advances in diagnostic and brain-imaging techniques mean that it is now quicker and easier to diagnose dementia and identify the area of the brain affected. This enables the better management of the symptoms associated with dementia, and with the support of their family and care service providers, those diagnosed with dementia are still able to enjoy life.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
Dementia manifests itself as a degree of ‘cognitive impairment’; in other words, some sort of problem with thinking ability. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, an impaired memory, speech or language problems, difficulty with problem solving, calculation or decision making, reduced hand/eye co-ordination or spatial awareness, and dyslexia.
You may feel, or have noticed in others, changes in emotions, behaviour or abilities which might lead you to worry about the presence of dementia. It’s worth noting that occasional forgetfulness or having a ‘senior moment’ are part and parcel of growing older and are not necessarily cause for concern.
If you are worried, it can be a good idea to seek the honest opinion of someone who knows you very well, such as a partner or close family member. You can ask them if they have noticed any outward changes in you such as increased occurrences of forgetfulness, greater difficulty in coping with everyday life, a lessened ability to solve problems, a loss of appetite or moods of anxiety or depression particularly when you are away from the comfort of familiar surroundings.
Many people mistakenly believe that a diagnosis of dementia means the end of a happy and active life. This is not the case. If you receive an appropriate level of care and support, from your family and from professional care service providers, it is perfectly possible to live well with dementia.
Founded in 2009, The Good Care Group is the most awarded live-in care provider in the UK providing tailored support and care services which enable people living with dementia to remain in their own home and to continue to lead a happy and independent life. You can find out more about our dementia live in care services here. Alternatively, to speak to someone about your dementia care requirements please call 0203 728 7577.