Dementia and Homecare
By James Fairhurst
There are 907,900 people today diagnosed with dementia, this figure is higher than at any time previously and is increasing all the time. A report by the London School of Economics suggests that a staggering 1 in 14 people will develop dementia over the age of 65, 1 in 6 of people over 80. The projected figure for the UK in 2040 is 1,590,100.
(Projections of older people with dementia and costs of dementia care in the United Kingdom 2019-2040)
It can be challenging and stressful to take care of someone with dementia, but it can be very rewarding knowing you’re making a difference to someone’s life.
How can you help?
In the Home
It is important that the individual with dementia has a feeling of control over their life. Encourage them and give support to do tasks themselves, so they maintain a feeling of independence, for example they may be able to lay the table.
Make their home more dementia friendly by adding labels to cupboards, drawers and doors which will help them to find the things that they need.
Speak clearly and in short sentences when speaking to the individual, giving them time to process and respond to what you are saying.
Maintain eye contact when talking to them and acknowledge that you are listening to them. Encourage them to speak for themselves when talking about their health and welfare, ensure you take note of their opinions and what they are telling you.
Eating and Drinking
It is vital for everyone that they have a well-balanced diet but for those with dementia this is crucial. Often people with dementia do not drink enough which can cause dehydration, urinary tract infections, constipation and headaches, all of which can worsen the problems associated with this condition.
In addition to this, people with dementia can often have problems with food. They may forget the types of food they like or forget to eat. They may refuse to eat or spit the food out and can also make strange food combinations. This can also be caused by sore teeth and gums, poor fitting dentures or difficulty in swallowing.
To help alleviate these problems set aside plenty of time for mealtimes and ensure they have good nutritious food.
Offer smaller portions so they don’t feel ‘over faced’ with food. Expect changes in food tastes, they may start to like stronger or sweeter tastes. Ensure they have the correct equipment for their need; they may need a cup with a lid or a straw to drink if recommended by a health care professional. It is important that they have regular medical and dental health checks to safeguard them from any oral problems occurring.
Incontinence and Toilet Problems
This is one of the most distressing problems for an individual with dementia and can be caused by infections, some medications, forgetting where the toilet is or the lack of feeling that you need to use the toilet.
To help with this problem, a sign may be put on the door or a light kept on in the toilet throughout the night. There may be signs that the person needs the toilet, they may fidget or look uncomfortable. Walking can help constipation, a short walk each day can help to keep their bowels moving.
Washing and Bathing
This can often cause upset and embarrassment for the person. They may also worry about the water being too deep or fear falling. To help with this you can chat with the person to find out how they would like to be helped, you may think about getting a seat or a hand shower. Reassure the person and if they wish you to, stay with them whilst they shower.
Dementia can cause disturbances with sleep patterns. Dementia friendly clocks are available which will show whether it is night or day. Limit napping during the day and ensure that they are getting some fresh air and exercise. Cut out evening caffeine and alcohol.
For more information about Dementia or for further advice, please click the below links:
- Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline
- Age UK’s Advice Line)
- Independent Age
- Dementia UK Admiral Nurse Dementia helpline
- Carers UK
If you’re looking specialist dementia care for your relative, please visit our service page here: https://crghomecare.uk.com/our-services/