What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. It can affect memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.
Signs & symptoms
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems such as forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop such as:
- Memory loss
- Changes in behaviour
- Difficulty planning or making decisions
- Communication and language difficulty
- Personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- Low mood, apathy or anxiety
Treatments for dementia
There is currently no cure for dementia. However, there are medications that can lessen a person’s symptoms. Support is also available to help someone with the condition, and their family, to cope with everyday life.
It helps to ensure people with dementia can take part in the things they enjoy as this can be an effective way of preventing and managing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
If you, or someone you care for, has been diagnosed with dementia it’s important to remember that:
- you’re still you, even though you have problems with memory, concentration and planning
- everyone experiences dementia differently
- focusing on the things you can still do and enjoy will help you to stay positive
One key strategy is to stay socially active. Keeping in touch with people and engaging in social activities, such as going to the theatre or cinema, or being part of a walking group or choir, is good for general confidence and mental wellbeing.
If you have someone who helps care for you, an active social life is good for them, too.
Many communities are now dementia-friendly. For example, cinemas put on dementia-friendly screenings of the latest films, and leisure centres run dementia-friendly swimming sessions as well as other activities.
It’s a good idea to join a local dementia-friendly group, perhaps at a memory café or community centre. You can share experiences and use tips from others who are living with dementia.
Dementia friendly communities
What is a dementia-friendly community?
A dementia-friendly community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported.
In a dementia-friendly community people will be aware of and understand dementia, so that people with dementia can continue to live in the way they want to and in the community they choose. Dementia-friendly communities are vital in helping people live well with dementia and remain a part of their community.
Too many people affected by dementia feel society fails to understand the condition they live with, its impact or how to interact with them. That’s why people with dementia sometimes feel they need to withdraw from their community as the condition progresses.
We all have a part to play in creating communities where people with dementia feel active, engaged and valued, which is why Right At Home Mid Hampshire is supporting the Alzheimer’s Society to encourage as many people to become Dementia Friends as possible.
Dementia Cafes & Activities in Mid Hampshire
A useful resource for finding dementia friendly events in and around Eastleigh, Winchester and Romsey is the events section of the Dementia Friendly Hampshire website.
Right At Home Mid Hampshire offer specialist care for those with dementia who wish to remain living in their own home. Details of how we can help can be found on the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care Services section of our website. We are always happy to have a chat about what help you may require, so please call one of our friendly team of trained carers on 02380 009595.