September marks World Alzheimer’s month and at Able Training want to take this opportunity to raise awareness around dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We are extremely passionate about challenging the societal attitudes and stigmatisations around dementia and want to offer ways to help anyone supporting someone with dementia improve their quality of life.
Dementia is a disease that impacts everyone and is the number one leading cause of death in the UK at the moment. That’s why we feel it is so important that everyone is receiving the right information and avenues to better support someone living with dementia.
One way we can improve the quality of life for someone living with dementia is making sure the individual can be involved in their own person-centred care as much as possible. This can ensure they are receiving the appropriate help and care that they need.
There are many misconceptions about the disease which need to be addressed as well. One being that developing dementia is a natural part of ageing…this is not accurate. The quote “It’s not called getting old, it’s called getting ill” by the Alzheimer’s Society best describes this disease. Yes, dementia is a severe illness known to typically develop later in life, but what we need to be assured is that anyone at any age can develop dementia, as it is a disease that is caused by damage or death to brain cells. Something that people may not generally know is that young onset dementia (someone living with dementia before the age of 65) affects over 42,000 people in the UK, one again proving dementia is not a natural part of aging.
One of the big issues we face with this disease, is the language used to describe it. We need to shun words around the disease like, demented or senile, and even saying people “suffering” with dementia can be a negative term. Instead, we should be more tentative about the language we use. Better alternatives are person/people with dementia, person/people living with dementia and person/people living well with dementia.
There are also many incorrect assumptions that dementia is just about memory loss, but symptoms can differ significantly to the individual. For example, it can affect a person’s abilities, perception, emotions, and behaviour differently. Spotting signs and symptoms in the early stages of dementia, such as a potential change in patterns of behaviour can help someone supporting someone living with dementia provide the right treatment and care they deserve, and better understand the individual’s needs.
Being diagnosed with dementia can be confusing and very hard to come to terms with. However, there can be many benefits to an early diagnosis for the person supporting and the person being supported. Changing our attitudes and taking action earlier can help ensure the condition does not go untreated. Although there is no cure for the diseases as of yet, there are psychological treatments that can help.
We want to make sure people are equipped to understand, support and care for those who need help to recognise and manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Family carers play a crucial role in supporting and improving the lives of people with dementia. For example, a person with dementia may need assistance with personal care, food shopping or maintaining a safe and hygienic environment. Understanding both the social aspects of dementia and having that medical awareness can really benefit the care offered. Understanding someone with dementia can help ensure appropriate interventions are provided and can make that person feel safe in their environment.
For professionals, understanding the triggers, adapting conversations, how to provide comfort and being positive about their achievements can make such a positive impact to improving their quality of life. It is important to focus on the person’s existing skills rather than their challenges. Adapting to these changes and adjusting communication will help make things easier. Looking for positive moments such as them remembering important events, experiencing fun and enjoyment or having a positive emotional reaction.
It’s never easy seeing loved one’s decline; it can become distressing and overwhelming, but it is important to realise that people living with dementia are still unique individuals. The person living with the condition cannot always adapt for themselves, but we can! If you have worries about the negative stigmas your family member could face, you should feel able to speak out and feel supported. There has been a lot of progress in destigmatising the many misconceptions about this disease and we should continue to do more to challenge any we come across in the future.
Able Training are offering the first module of our dementia awareness e-learning course for free. Just visit: https://hub.able-training.co.uk/courses/dementia-awareness-demo/ to start the course today and learn more about the disease. If you decide you would like to take the full course, follow this link: https://hub.able-training.co.uk/cart/?add-to-cart=28818&coupon_code=TA3B66KD to get 50% off the full course. Once you have completed the full course you will also receive free printable resources such as; a guide on how to improve the quality of life for someone living with dementia and a dementia friendly environment checklist.