Medically speaking ‘dementia’ is a broad stroke term for a variety of conditions relating to the deterioration of brain function.
A life limiting condition dementia is as unique as you are – everyone experiences it in their own way because everyone’s brain and view of the world is different. However dementia often results in changes to behaviour, personality, emotions and memory function. Because of this dementia can be isolating, confusing and depressing, affecting not only the individual, but everyone in their lives who cares about them.
There are around 200 different subtypes of dementia, but the five most prevalent in the UK are:
Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia are the most common.
Alzheimer’s disease: is still not yet fully understood. The sometimes steady, sometimes unpredictable decline of brain function resulting in difficulty with recall, decision making, speech and language can often lead to disorientation, fearfulness, suspicion, anxiety, depression and sometimes, hallucinations. Age and family history are both key contributing factors.
Vascular dementia: is damage and eventual death of brain cells due to a lack of blood flow to the brain. This could occur as the result of a stroke or mini strokes or by the narrowing or blockage of small blood vessels in the brain. Although this could happen to anyone, those who smoke, are overweight or have high blood pressure or diabetes are more at risk.
Both diseases are progressive and very often characterized by 3, 5 or 7 separate stages. Sadly there is currently no cure for dementia, but diagnosed early and treated and supported effectively, it is possible for many people living with dementia to maintain active and happy lives for many years.
However as the disease progresses it is likely that specialist nursing care for dementia will be required. Currently around 39% of people living with dementia in the UK are residents within dementia care homes.*
You are not alone: more common in those over 65, it is estimated that around 1 in 14 people in the UK suffer from dementia. As dementia care specialists at Westacre we witness the challenges residents living with dementia face every day and those of their families, friends, carers and loved ones. We know how hard it can be and we are here to help.
Care homes for dementia patients exist to make life easier, both for the individual and their families. At Westacre we understand that the decision to use a dementia care home is a significant step. As experienced dementia professionals we are a hub of knowledge, a shoulder to cry on and a much needed support system for all our residents living with dementia and everyone who cares for them.
Below we have listed some of the challenges faced by those living with dementia and the benefits and solutions specialist dementia nursing homes like Westacre can offer.
Apathy: People living with dementia can lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed. It is very important for people with dementia to remain stimulated and active and so we provide a dedicated program of activities, for example live music, visits from PAT dogs and local outings, designed to keep everyone entertained.
Socialising: Social situations can be challenging for those with dementia, they can easily lose interest in socialising and withdraw into themselves. At Westacre we offer a friendly family environment with welcoming communal areas and always an understanding ear to bend.
Decisions: Many people with dementia find planning and organising difficult and will often need help with decision making. A lot of this stress is immediately removed within a dementia care home environment; we have a reassuring daily routine which takes care of much of the daily decision making, plus there’s always someone on hand if there’s anything someone needs to talk through.
Safety: Decreasing brain function can make many daily living activities difficult to manage whilst memory loss and momentary confusion can lead to potentially dangerous situations for those living on their own. Care homes for dementia patients ensure that a person is safe and not a danger to themselves, whilst relieving a great deal of stress and worry from their loved ones.
Confusion: Changes to personality can be very distressing for loved ones and those living with dementia. They may struggle to control their emotions, lose the ability to empathise with others or to understand their environment or certain situations. They may also suffer hallucinations, become angry, fearful or distressed. At Westacre we understand this behaviour. All of our staff are trained to recognise the various stages of dementia and to treat everyone in a manner that lets them maintain their dignity, individuality and independence.
At Westacre work with person centred care plans which we develop using the ‘This is Me’ lifestyle profile. This helps us to build a detailed picture of a person’s likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, wishes and expectations which we then use every day to deliver the very best levels of care, tailored to every individual.
Understanding is vital in caring for people with dementia and at Westacre our staff are all well trained in all aspects of dementia care. Our experienced team enables us to provide our residents with a high quality of life because we are committed to ‘getting it just right’, working with kindness and sensitivity in a welcoming family setting.