The most common early symptoms of dementia include memory loss, difficulty with communication, and changes in mood or behaviour. As the condition progresses, individuals with dementia may experience increased cognitive decline, including difficulty with problem solving, confusion, and a loss of the ability to perform everyday tasks.
Dementia is a significant concern for older adults, as the risk of developing the condition increases with age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and this number is expected to triple by 2050.
Individuals with dementia may require specialised care and support to manage their symptoms, including assistance with everyday tasks and activities. As cognitive decline progresses, they may struggle to maintain relationships with friends and family members and require specialised support to engage in community activities.
Families and caregivers
Dementia can be a challenging condition for both the person with dementia and their families. It can cause significant changes in personality and behaviour, and it can be difficult for family members to cope with these changes. However, it is important to remember that people with dementia are still individuals with unique personalities and histories. They may need extra care and support, but they can still enjoy fulfilling lives.
Caregivers of people with dementia often experience high levels of stress and burnout. It is important for families to take care of themselves as well as their loved ones. This may include taking breaks, seeking support from others, and finding ways to reduce stress.
One of the most challenging aspects of dementia is the loss of memories and the ability to communicate effectively. It can be difficult for family members to understand what their loved one with dementia is experiencing, and it can be frustrating for the person with dementia to express their needs and desires.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help improve communication with people with dementia. These include speaking clearly and slowly, using simple language and short sentences, and using non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures. It is also important to be patient and understanding, and to listen carefully to the person with dementia.
While there is currently no cure for dementia, there are several strategies that can help manage the condition and improve quality of life. In retirement villages, staff members play a vital role in supporting residents with dementia and helping them to manage their symptoms effectively.
One of the most important aspects in caring for people with dementia is creating a safe and supportive environment. Social connections are also crucial. However, people with dementia can often experience discrimination and may also struggle to access appropriate care and support. Holly Lea Village General Manager Juliane Brand says there is a real stigma around dementia. “It’s such a label.” The village recently opened its Care Centre, offering the latest advances and comforts in personalised residential care, including a specialised memory support unit. “Dementia comes in all forms and shapes for different people,” says Juliane. “I call the services we offer memory support, as the person is still the same person they always have been, but their reality has changed, or their timeframe might be different. They often live in the past, don’t understand today and don’t see tomorrow.”
The new centre provides residents with personalised care up to hospital level and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and specialised equipment. Facilities include ceiling hoists, a Tovertafel table, and a Wellness Nordic Relaxation Chair from Denmark, combining music, tactile simulation, and a rocking motion for a calming multi-sensory experience.
Whether it’s a few hours a week or full-time care, a wide range of domestic and personal care services can be tailored to meet specific needs at the centre, and every resident can access a choice of services at any time.
A customised care plan is created for each individual, says Juliane. “We do everything in our power to get an understanding of their now, to walk in their shoes and live in their moment – while also acknowledging they are still the same person – they are someones daughter, mother, son or father and deserve the utmost respect. We are honoured to look after them and fit into their timeframe.”
One previous resident Juliane looked after was a war veteran, who constantly heard the sound of fighter planes. “He would cry out all the time and people would tell him ‘No, it’s not true! They are not there!’ One day, I held his hand and told him, ‘We are okay, we are safe and they can’t touch us.’ I didn’t deny him his reality and that’s all he needed to hear – he stopped yelling out after that.”
Juliane and her experienced and professional team aim to implement this level of care and compassion at the centre every day, while providing the best possible service to each individual.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent dementia, there are several lifestyle factors that can reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include:
Eating a healthy diet
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help reduce the risk of dementia.
Exercise can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia.
Managing chronic conditions
Chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of dementia, so it is important to manage these conditions effectively.
Staying socially active
Social isolation can increase the risk of dementia, so it is important to stay socially engaged and maintain strong relationships with friends and family.
Dementia is a complex and challenging condition that affects millions of people around the world and there are a variety of treatment options available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. With proper care and management, people with dementia can continue to live full and meaningful lives.
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