An estimated 850,000 people are thought to be living with dementia in the UK today and this figure is set to rise to one million by 2021. But the condition not only affects the person who lives with it – there are 700,000 people caring for those with dementia too.
A diagnosis of dementia can be very difficult, but many people also tell us they find it a relief and it’s allows them to plan for the future. At this time, it’s so important for loved ones to come together as they will be key in providing practical and emotional support. If you are caring for someone with dementia it’s essential to help them remain as fit and healthy as possible because the better they feel, the more you can enjoy life together.
Everyone has a rich life tapestry; personality and experience will play a huge part in the way a person’s condition progresses and how they react in certain situations. Family and friends will be experts in the person’s unique qualities, interests and needs and this will help shape the person’s care.
Practical things like getting dressed, going to the toilet and eating and drinking will become more difficult. Some people will also experience difficulties communicating. When a person with dementia finds that their abilities are declining, they often feel vulnerable and in need of reassurance and support. It’s essential to listen to the person and adjust their care to meet their needs and help maintain their independence.
As dementia progresses, people will need to receive more one-to-one care and support services. Some people with dementia will be able to remain at home, with a carer, whether that is someone who is paid to come in, or a family or friend, while others will move into full-time residential or nursing care. It is a good idea to plan early and keep the person with dementia involved as much as possible – carefully consider all your options and make arrangements as soon as more help is needed.
A move to a care home can be an emotionally difficult time, but the consistency and quality of care provided can often be what is required. There are also social benefits of living in a care home and a good home will see families as an invaluable asset to share what the person with dementia’s preferences and habits are and what changes may be needed to ensure a happy life in their new home.
When you’re caring for someone with dementia, it can be all too easy to ignore your own needs and forget that you matter too. It’s much easier to cope if you look after your own health and wellbeing, and there is lots of support available.
Visit their website here or call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 for help on how to care for someone with dementia or just talk to someone who understands. You can also visit the online forum Talking Point to get help and advice from people with similar experiences.