Myth busting dementia this World Alzheimer’s Day – Sept 21st
When we hear the words Alzheimer’s or dementia in connection to ourselves or our loved ones it can be a worrying time. There are lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings about dementia and Alzheimer’s. This, and every, September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day – a date to raise awareness of the condition and learn more about it. Its aim is to break the stigma and help people to better understand this condition. This month, we have compiled a guide to what Alzheimer’s is, and myth bust a few of the common misconceptions to help you and your loved ones feel empowered to understand it more.
At GoodOaks Homecare, we provide bespoke care that is person centred. We work with you, your loved one and their wider care team to ensure we put a care plan into place that enhances their quality of life and allows them to remain living independently and safely in their own home for as long as possible.
Being able to stay in their own home with possessions and reminders of their life can be hugely beneficial to those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It can allow them to be less worried and more connected to their past and memories. It is less disorientating and helps to keep them more relaxed and comfortable. At GoodOaks we offer different levels of care depending on the needs of the person.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a life-limiting disease that affects the brain. It is named after the doctor who discovered it – Alios Alzheimer. In Alzheimer’s Disease, plaques or tangles form in the brain – these disrupt the nerve activity between brain cells and cause connections to not work properly/to be lost. Alzheimer’s also affects the chemical messages that race round the brain sending messages to different parts of the body.
It is a progressive disease, which means that more damage will occur over time and so symptoms will get worse.
How is it different / the same as dementia?
Dementia is a term used to describe a set of symptoms including memory loss, problems with problem-solving, thinking, and language. Dementia occurs when the brain is damaged by diseases like Alzheimer’s.
What are the main symptoms?
- Difficulty with language – problems, reading, writing and retaining information.
- Confused thinking/problems thinking logically
- Problems with memory
- Confusion and disorientation
- Problems focusing/short attention span
- Problems with impulse control
- Inappropriate outbursts of anger
How can it be treated?
There are treatments for Alzheimer’s that can boost the chemical messages in the brain.
Other medicines may include:
- Antipsychotic medicines for those showing huge distress and aggression
Other non-medicine treatments include:
- CST – Cognitive Stimulation Therapy – this is designed to improve memory
- Reminiscence – talking about the person’s life and using photos or objects to trigger good memories
- Cognitive rehabilitation – this is where a person works with a carer, a friend or an occupational therapist to learn a task. For example, using a mobile phone to call family etc.
The NHS has a very comprehensive web page on treatments, which you can find here.
Will my loved one stop knowing who I am?
Memory loss and changes in the way a person with Alzheimer’s experiences reality may affect their remembrance of people, objects or places. Those with Alzheimer’s – usually in later stage Alzheimer’s – will experience time and reality differently, remembering things in the past with greater clarity than the present. They may not recognise people or themselves – this is because they will only remember people and how they looked when they are younger.
Will Alzheimer’s a mean my loved one has no quality of life?
As scary as Alzheimer’s is to think about, it is still possible for someone to experience a good quality of life and enjoy the things they used to before. Early intervention, help from doctors and specialists and carers, can make a huge difference to their quality of life and help the person, and their loved ones, cope with the changes.
For example, many people with Alzheimer’s will need help with dressing, washing and eating – all of these things can be done by a carer. Our teams work closely with GPs and the person’s wider care team (like occupational therapists,) to make sure they are doing all they can to support the person and their specific needs. The Alzheimer’s Society has a very good guide on their website about the stages of the disease and what can help at each stage. You can read it here.
Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s?
Currently no. But while there is no cure, there are medicines that can slow the process and therapies to help the person live a good life.
Is it hereditary? What can I do to prevent it?
You inherit your genes from your parents, so if they have Alzheimer’s it can increase your risk of it. However, this increase in risk is small.
There are things you can do to prevent it as well, like maintaining an active social life, reading, exercising and eating a healthy diet.
The GoodOaks Homecare difference
We believe that good care can change someone’s life, enabling them to remain living safely and comfortably in the home they love. If you would like help or support for you or your loved one, please feel free to get in touch for a free consultation about the care we could provide. You can find our contact details online here: goodoakshomecare.co.uk/our-offices/