Friday, 21 September 2012

Understanding ALZHEIMERS

I don't know about you but during my time I think it was always assumed that as a carer you know everything about everything!!!!

You probably know where this is going don't you? No matter what situation we were walking into very rarely were we told; beforehand; this gentleman/lady has......It seemed we were just sent in and had to learn as we went along. (Of course,where equipment was concerned there was training provided for each individual before the first visit.)

So, I thought isn't this a good opportunity  to put together at least the basics(again,each person is unique) to begin to understand what is going on for the person we are caring for, as well  as their families.

It is a mxiture of own experience(sometimes alot closer to the heart) and what has been visited on lifes great journey.Oh and of course I will add in links for relevant sites that will go more in depth with each condition.

As September is Alzheimers month I feel it fitting for this to be the first step.(And I dedicate it to my grandad.x)


'..Named after Dr Alois Alzheimer, who observed the disease in 1901, Alzheimer’s disease affects about 500,000 people in the UK, and an estimated 35 million worldwide.
Typical symptoms of early Alzheimer’s include:
  • Regularly forgetting recent events, names and faces.
  • Regularly misplacing items or putting them in odd places.
  • Confusion about the time of day.
  • Disorientation, especially away from your normal surroundings.
  • Getting lost.
  • Problems finding the right words.
  • Reduced judgement, for example, being unaware of danger.
  • Mood or behaviour problems such as apathy, irritability, or losing confidence...'

The speed of change varies between people and also between different diseases, but in most dementias symptoms progress slowly over several years.
Everybody is unique and is affected in their own way. As dementia progresses:
  • People may find that their ability to remember, think and make decisions worsens.
  • Communication and language often become more difficult.
  • A person’s behaviour may change and some people can become sad or demoralised.
  • Anxieties or phobias are quite common.
  • Problems with time perception may cause problems with sleeping and restlessness at night.
  • Anger or agitation is common in the later stages of dementia.
  • It is common for people to be unsteady on their feet and fall more often.
  • Gradually people require more help with daily activities like dressing, toileting and eating.

So; this I hope ;gives you an idea of what it is about. In reality, for families of those caring for a loved one it can be heartbreaking and frustrating to grasp why this person you love no longer remembers you,or can't communicate in any way. Its heartbreaking to see this happen for many years on end.

Its hard to grasp that their'knowing' seems to have disappeared....or has it?

I remember reading somewhere that the 'eyes are the windows to the soul'...think about it. next time you look into a mirror, take a close look into your own soul and get to know yourself. Its quite powerful and it  has been something I used in the past during many visits.

I can remember helping someone many years ago by singing the 'Archers' tune to motivate them to move and guide to the bathroom. On route, a towel or mat would be placed over carpet grips in each doorway(apparently it would be seen as an obstacle if left uncovered and they would come to a halt), These things are what you pick up as you go along and as I keep saying we are all individual,what works for one may not work for another.

I have come across a very interesting piece found on the Dementia UK website which looks at 'life story work'.... This framework is used by staff to collect information about the people they are working with in order to help them understand more about them and to provide information, which can help them to deliver person centred care. This is a collaborative process with family members and friends and emphasis is placed on using images and photographs to bring the life story book ‘to life'. The template can be adapted and updated according to individual needs or preferences and a copy can be stored electronically in case of loss or damage.'

I urge you to take a look.It seems to me, to be something which would be of great help and a 'tool' which would work in all aspects of care!

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