An article written by Julia Corbett outlines some ideas for dealing with persons with dementia in a caring and nurturing way from a study done in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Seeing the person behind the dementia is ‘perhaps the most crucial aspect of care’
Helping a person to live well with dementia does not only mean treating the illness, but ensuring their physical and mental wellbeing is maintained to allow them to continue to have fulfilling life experiences.
When someone is diagnosed with dementia, the diagnosis can provide key answers to someone’s concern about their health problems. However, it was found people with dementia were too often finding their other health needs were not being addressed, with some health professionals readily blaming unrelated health issues on the dementia.
Specific areas where people with dementia were sometimes treated differently to a person without the illness, included dental health and mobility issues.
Sensory pleasures such as listening to something from their favourite music collection or eating something enjoyable can help someone with dementia to continue getting enjoyment from activities and maintain their sense of own personal identity.
Dr Graham said: “It is important to bear in mind that the course of the illness is a long one, and towards the later stages of the disease it can become much more of a challenge to enable people to have experiences they can enjoy. However things like eating or music can still be enjoyable, even though they cannot carry on doing some things they used to be able to do.
Over 90 per cent of people in a survey of 2,300 UK adults claimed ‘being independent’ was important to happiness, and was a vital element in helping people with dementia to lead fulfilling lives.
The report wants carers to prevent people with dementia from becoming ‘the safest humans who ever lived’ and work to empower them to be able to continue carrying out some independent activities through a sharing of responsibility between home carers, care organisations and the person with dementia themselves.
“The crucial thing is that all activities that might involve risk are fully discussed with the person with dementia, relatives and staff together before they are undertaken. The sharing of responsibility reduces the stress for everybody.”
With the number of people with dementia expected to rise to over one million by 2021, the need for informed information and advice about helping someone to live well with dementia will become a vital debate for the whole community and will be necessary to respond well to the impact of an aging society.”