1st April 2016
Having been asked to do a blog on Alzheimer’s & Dementia care I came to realise I have never actually read a blog, let alone write one myself. I thought the best source for inspiration would be to visit Talking Point on the Alzheimer’s society website and came across some very interesting material.
In all honesty I was expecting to read blogs from Professional researchers, practitioners, carers, family members and friends alike. Instead I found myself reading blog after blog from one individual, a man from Kent who was in his early sixties.
I initially read a small introduction into this man, a strong, intelligent, natural leader and family man. Though his marriages had deteriorated and his son passed away at a young age, he depicted himself to be someone who fights his way through the day when needed.
It started with a clear history of his life and moved onto the struggle with his memory. Having spent 7 years of his life being told over and over again that it is due to stress from recent events in his life he finally heard the news he wanted – he had early onset Alzheimer’s. In a strange way I also found myself feeling a little happy for him, now knowing finally what was wrong with his memory. He had an idea of what he was contending with and he had a bit of hope that he would fight to hold onto himself for as long as he possibly could. The more I read the sadder I became, he struggled with his moods, describing them as getting out of bed and leaving his happy emotions behind.
He would become anxious about going out for the bike rides that he once enjoyed. He would get confused as to how he and his friend could watch a football match that had already happened the day before (his friend had pre-recorded it on sky of course). He would look at the clock and wonder what he had done or where he had been for the evening, searching his home looking for evidence to see if he had eaten, washed or even been out of his house.
I found myself reading his blogs out loud to the office team, picking out the parts that filled me with frustration and sadness for him. The fact that he couldn’t even open a packet of crackers even though he had stood assessing them for over 15 minutes only to figure out at midnight that all he had to do is pull the red tab to open them, instead they were left on the floor now in crumbs, pretty much same as his short term memories.
At this point I have to admit, I didn’t want to go on reading. I had put myself into some strange state of sadness and frustration, how can this happen? How could we genuinely forget the simplest of things such as opening a box of crackers? I was however, already intrigued by this gentleman and wanted to read more.
Finally, he appears to have struck some luck and although his disease is getting worse he is becoming happier and more determined. He is now getting support from someone that he simply calls the “dementia lady”, she comes along each week to talk to him, take surveys and perform various tests on his memory abilities. He describes the walks he goes on with his local dementia Café. He meets with them between 2 to 3 times a week and at first he feels overwhelmed with anxiety, doesn’t feel like he belongs, he is too young to be there.
In time he finds other people that feel connected to him and understand him, often they won’t go on the walks unless they know he is there, he describes the happiness he finds in being with other like minded people. He has his good days, he has his bad days, but his good days are made better by the support network around him.
I’m probably going to continue reading his blogs now if I’m honest.
This year, we at Platinum Care Solutions have decided to support The Alzheimer’s Society and work on a daily basis with those affected by Alzheimer’s and Dementia, often those that are in the advance stages who at times tend not to be here nor there on various days. Luckily for us we feel as though we are fully equipped with the skills, tools and knowledge that we need to support individuals that have Alzheimer’s or Dementia on a daily basis and we continue to learn. Alzheimer’s and Dementia are real, it is on the rise and it is far more soul and heart destroying than we have ever imagined.
With 815,827 people estimated to have dementia in 2014 and an increased amount of 856,700 in 2015 it is clear that with our longer lasting lifestyles it is only going to increase.
I myself did some training last year to be a Dementia Champion so that I can explain dementia to others in a way that they may understand, to give them the information they may need when interacting with those individuals that have it. I will soon be rolling out dates that I would urge you to come along to so that you can be a part of future support and care to those who have Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
It is in my opinion vital that charities as such as the Alzheimer’s Society are supported and sponsored, without them spreading awareness there will be no support for the man that blogs, there will be no support for the family that loves and there are less tools and knowledge for carers to use to support. I feel in the last year or so I could ask almost anyone if they know what Dementia or Alzheimer’s is and they would say yes, do they understand it or know how they can support or help? Maybe yes or maybe no, but I feel that in the not so distant future my answer to that question could be a lot different.
Kathy WhiteTags: dementia care