Dementia

 

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How We Can Help

By developing an understanding of dementia, you could make someone who is feeling isolated, feel valued and welcome.

Being thoughtful and helpful could make a big difference to someone who is feeling vulnerable

People experience dementia in different ways and they can be affected differently by the people and environment around them.

People with dementia tell us that the following activities were important to them to achieve either independently or with a carer: being able to travel, going to shops, running errands, visiting places of worship, managing day-to-day tasks.

People with dementia have said that more care and support would enable them to do more in their local area. Being able to undertake the everyday tasks and activities that we take for granted can make people with dementia feel a sense of achievement.

 

We can all play a part in enabling people with dementia to live well wherever they are.

There are no obvious physical signs that show someone has dementia. Another difficulty is that more than half of people who have dementia have not received a diagnosis.

The common symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, confusion, and problems with expression, thinking and reasoning might affect the actions of somebody with dementia or the way in which they interact with other people.

  • Memory loss – this particularly affects day-to-day memory.  Some people remember things from a long time ago much more easily.
  • Communication problems – including problems finding the right words for things.
  • Difficulties with thinking things through and planning – problems with carrying out everyday tasks such as handling money.
  • Confusion about time or place – not recognising, or getting lost in familiar places, or being unaware of the time or date.
  • Sight and vision problems – increased difficulty with reading and judging distances or mistaking shiny, patterned objects or reflections.
  • Unusual emotional behaviour or responses – becoming sad, angry, frightened or upset.
  • Restlessness or disorientation – in unfamiliar or noisy environments people with dementia may become confused or ill at ease.

If you notice someone having problems such as those described it is important that first and foremost you see the person as an individual – not just the symptoms of dementia.

 

Offer understanding and reassurance

Firstly, allow the person to take their time.

  • Try to understand how they might be feeling.
  • Put the person at ease – be friendly and smile.
  • Consider their feelings and respond to the emotions they are expressing.
  • If they are experiencing difficulty or appear distressed,
 

Communicate clearly

The key to helping someone is being able to communicate with them. A person with dementia may not understand what you are doing or remember what you have said. Treat them respectfully by addressing them in conversation as well as any partner or carer they may be with.

 

Body language and physical contact

  • Make eye contact
  • Make sure that your body language and facial expressions match what you are saying.
  • Never stand too close or stand over someone to communicate.  Do not cover your mouth; the person should be able to see your face clearly.
 

Talking

  • Speak clearly and calmly.
  • Use short, simple sentences.
  • Speak at a slightly slower pace.
  • Avoid speaking sharply or raising your voice.
  • Don’t talk about people with dementia as if they are not there or talk to them as you would to a young child.
 

Listening

  • Listen carefully to what the person is saying, and give them plenty of encouragement.
  • If you haven’t understood fully, tell the person what you have understood and check with them to see if you are right

Of course in Gillingham we continue to work hard at maintaining the status we have achieved of being recognised as a Dementia Friendly Community, so please join our growing Dementia Friends and attend one of our Dementia Friends Awareness Sessions when you see them advertised.   (All will be resumed as soon as Covid restrictions allow)