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Film and television are increasingly choosing to use dementia and Alzheimer's as plot points, or even to drive entire narratives. It is no secret that dementia has a prevalent place within our society, with 850,000 sufferers in the UK alone; this number is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025

With so many people affected by dementia and Alzheimer's, the coverage of these terminal illnesses is more than welcome, as it raises awareness and gives the public some insight into what those diagnosed go through. However, there are some myths regarding the portrayal of people with dementia that we'd like to dispel.

1. Alzheimer's disease is not a romantic or glamorous illness

Nick Cassavetes' film adaptation of The Notebook (2004) tells the tale of Noah Calhoun reading to his wife Ali. Every day, he reads their love story from a worn-out notebook in a bid to jog her memory, which has been ravaged by Alzheimer's disease. The film has been heralded as one of the most romantic movies ever, thanks to its tale of undying love. However, The Notebook romanticises Alzheimer's within a family, suggesting that everything will work out in the end given nothing more than a simple memory jog. In fact, many people forget that Alzheimer's disease is even involved in the film.

Memory loss is one of many symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease, and this illness has an irrevocable effect of both the patient and their family.

2. Dementia isn't a 'funny' disease

When a comedy show approaches the subject of dementia or Alzheimer's disease, the results can often be compassionless and cruel. This has been seen in many television shows (Pete's mother in Gavin and Stacey, and Abe from The Simpsons). A more recent case is the representation of Cloris Leachman's character 'Maw Maw' from American sitcom Raising Hope. The Fox show has come under fire for being "not funny, but insensitive and cruel". Maw Maw is often the butt of the show's jokes; she rarely has any lucid moments, mistakes her grandson for her late husband, and forgets to put a shirt on.

Raising Hope makes caring for dementia sufferers look simple and fun, when caring for a person with dementia requires patience, understanding and strength. Caring for someone with dementia costs roughly £30,000 annually, but family carers of people with dementia save the UK economy £1 billion annually.

3. There is more to Alzheimer's disease than memory loss

Alzheimer's disease has become synonymous with memory loss, as seen in The Notebook (2004) and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) among others. However, there is so much more to this complex disease. As mentioned earlier, forgetting places, names and memories is one of the many symptoms of Alzheimer's, but the majority of patients relate to a feeling of sheer panic as they cannot find a connection to anything in their surroundings. They do not recognise anything around them, and everything becomes depersonalised.

Dementia requires complex care and shouldn't ever be diminished to just one symptom.

4. Dementia has no gender preference

Until recently, actors who portrayed sufferers of dementia were predominantly female. Still Alice, The Notebook, Grey's Anatomy, The Iron Lady and Iris all show women suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. However, dementia does not have a gender preference; the older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from dementia, and because women tend to live longer than men, there are more female sufferers overall. 61% of dementia patients are female, and 39% are male.

5. Dementia isn't a rapid disease

Still Alice (2014) tells the story of linguistics professor Dr Alice Howland and her poignant battle with early-onset dementia. The film has been recognised as a fairly accurate portrayal of what it is like to have Alzheimer's disease, apart from the fact that Alice's decline happens in under a year. Alzheimer's disease and dementia can take as long as ten years to fully develop; vascular dementia is the quickest form of dementia to develop, but it is incredibly rare in anyone under the age of 65.

If you suspect that a loved one of family member is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, or you are looking for support for someone with these diseases, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of professionals are always willing to help.
Alzheimer's disease is a physical disease that causes a buildup of proteins in the brain, which then forms structures known as 'tangles' or 'plaques', that can cause nerve cells to die, as they block signals and connections in the brain. This can cause a significant loss of brain tissue, as well as limiting the production of chemicals in the brain meaning that important messages are no longer delivered.

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and 520,000 of them have Alzheimer's disease. One of the main symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss, increased confusion and a decline in cognitive functions. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease develops slowly over a number of years, and every patient will experience the illness differently.

Memory loss is a symptoms that can be incredibly distressing for both the patient and their family members, which is why it is important to utilise the support and therapies that are available once a diagnosis has been made. Projects and tasks that help calm patients down, with the goal of making them feel safe and comfortable is imperative, getting specialised home care services also being highly beneficial to help patients deal with their day to day routine. There are also activities that can be used to improve memories should always be taken into consideration. Here are a few tips and tricks to help stimulate memory.


Stay Calm and Be Understanding


Communicating and spending time with someone who has Alzheimer's disease can be incredibly frustrating and distressing for both parties involved. Alzheimer's causes patients to forget certain words, lose their train of thought, understanding what words mean and much more. Memory loss can have a severe effect on someone's ability to communicate, which is why it is important to stay calm, be very considerate and really understanding when talking to someone with Alzheimer's disease.

Finding out that a loved one does not remember who you are can be devastating, but it is important to remember that when your relative or friend is lashing out, it is their disease taking control. It can be very difficult but try not to take it personally and stay positive. Make sure your body language and tone of voice is warm, welcoming so that the person you are talking to feels comfortable and safe. If communication becomes stressful or upsetting for the patient then calmly distract the person with an activity you know they enjoy.

Holding the person's hand whilst you talk to them, and offering gentle touches will also help to calm them - especially when they are struggling with their train of thought and emotions. If it becomes too much for you to handle then take a five minute break and try again. 


Try Brain Training Apps


Brain training games and apps have become a phenomenon in the medical field. Game based applications that require players to stimulate the cognitive and memory functions of the brain are proven to strengthen the player's ability to pay attention and problem solve. 

Brain training games can help to improve patients undertaking everyday tasks, such as going on public transport and cooking meals, giving them their independence back. These brain training activities help sufferers to maintain their cognitive functions, as well as using their memory for exercises.

Free brain training applications such as  Lumosity (for IOS and Android) offers a plethora of brain training and scientific games to help strengthen the brain. The games teach users to problem solve, whilst ignoring distractions and things that are not relevant to the scenario playing out on screen.


Arts and Crafts


Crafting is a fantastic way for those who suffer with Dementia and Alzheimer's to utilise their time and energy, as they are able to use their hands (helping to calm tremors), excercise their brain and regain some independence by doing an activity for themselves.

Arts & Crafts

Certain colours, shapes and activities (such as knitting) may also trigger them to remember events from their past. There have been cases where patients who are despondent start to communicate and become a bit more positive about their current situation. They become active and want to participate in other activities. 

Busy blankets or fidget blankets are also a fantastic way to help sooth relentless fidgeting and pacing. Often, non-drug related fidgeting and restlessness occurs in those with Dementia as they feel that they need to be doing something, and when they feel this way it can result in feelings of agitation. Arts, crafts and busy blankets also help their sensory stimulation, and can have a therapeutic effect.


Make a Personalised Photo Album


A personalised photo album will not only help to stimulate an Alzheimer's patient's memory, it also makes a fantastic gift. Photo albums and scrap books are a brilliant way to review and reminisce of the past, and this is no exception when it comes to patients. However, this activity should be done with great care as looking back on a patient’s past may bring up upsetting memories, therefore resulting in feelings of sadness, anger or fear. 

If you decide to create a personalised photo album or scrapbook, then place the images in chronological order, as this will avoid confusion and make sense to your loved one. Make sure you pick out truly meaningful and happy moments, as this may trigger warm, loving memories. If your loved one gets confused or says the wrong name, avoid trying to correct them as the main aim of this activity is to connect with them.

Sharing your own memories and asking open ended questions such as, "where did you go as a child?" can help to trigger memories and create a positive bond. Although you want the patient to remember their life, making sure that they know that they have congenial company and are safe should always come first.

If you suspect a loved or family member is suffering with Alzheimer's or Dementia, or are looking for support for someone with these diseases do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of professionals are always willing to help. 
Scientists have made a medical breakthrough by creating a drug that stops the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The drug, which is the first of its kind, has halted deterioration of the brain, which is caused by Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia.

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK, and 520,000 of them have Alzheimer's disease, a physical disease that affects the brain. Alzheimer's causes a build-up of proteins in the brain, which then forms structures known as 'tangles' or 'plaques'. These plaques results in no connection between nerve cells, causing them to die, along with a loss of brain tissue. It also limits the production of chemicals in the brain, meaning that important messages are not transmitted.


What is Alzheimer's Disease?

The symptoms of Alzheimer's include memory loss, depression, hallucinations, inability to judge distances and dimensions, inability to concentrate, and becoming easily confused. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and patients often end up in need of home care services to help support them in their daily routine and assist with certain tasks.

There are already drugs (such as Donepezil) to control the symptoms of Alzheimer's, as well as therapy to help delay memory loss. However, this drug is the first of its kind to stop the deterioration of the brain, with some patients' deterioration rate stabilising for as long as 18 months. Research has shown that those who have taken the drug have had their fundamental cognitive skills maintained throughout the study.

These results were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto by Dr Serge Gauthier of McGill University. He said:

"This is the first time it has happened in our field that a drug reduces the rate of brain atrophy. As a practising clinician, I see Alzheimer's patients, their families and caregivers continually share their desperate need for a truly therapeutic product."

If you have a family member who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and would like some advice on how best to care for them, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Care at home

Why choose home care?

As we grow older, we can sometimes find difficulty in everyday tasks. From getting around to cooking and cleaning, age and illness can often limit many aspects of our life. Whilst some people have family and friends around to lend a hand, others can find that these restrictions cause a real problem within their routine.

Independence is something that people worry about when they begin to struggle, but requiring a little extra assistance doesn’t need to compromise an independent way of life when it comes to home care.

What is home care?

Home care refers to a level of assistance within your own home. An ideal situation for when hospital care is not necessary, and a care home is not appropriate. It provides a middle ground for people who wish to continue living in their own home but have simply grown to need an extra hand with certain tasks.

There are different levels of care available to cater for different needs. In each case, a specially trained professional visits the home to assist.
  • Personal & Housekeeping Care refers to a rounded level of care. Where any household tasks are taken care off, as well as personal hygiene and general wellbeing. Personal domiciliary care can help a person to continue to feel like themselves, while housekeeping care can ensure they are living comfortably and continuing to enjoy their own home.

  • Nursing Care is best when the person requiring care is dealing with an illness. This type of live-in care ensures that they are receiving the correct level of medication and dealing with any symptoms in the best way possible.

  • Companionship Care is predominantly about providing some social time. According to Age UK, in May 2016, over 2 million people over the age of 75 are living alone in the UK. For those with few friends and family, companionship can make a big difference to their happiness.

How does care at home benefit you?

One of the greatest benefits of home care is its flexible nature. Those being cared for can enjoy their own home and continue to live as they wish, as care can be tailored around them. Home care ranges from 24 hour round-the-clock to short and emergency visits, meaning that each person has an arrangement that has been carefully decided upon based on their individual needs.

Home care offers one-on-one assistance, bringing with it a personal touch and a high standard. All care agencies report to the Care Quality Commission and carers are put through a series of checks to ensure their eligibility in such a position of trust.

If you are considering how home care could benefit you, or a loved one, and would like to know more about our home care services in and around Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford, get in touch with Sova Healthcare today to discuss how we can help.

Caring for someone with dementia can be particularly challenging, but developing a deeper understanding of what they are going through can benefit everyone.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is used to refer to a number of brain-centred disorders, with varying symptoms. It is most commonly associated with a loss of memory and a sense of disorientation, but has many other effects that can be daunting.


How to Care for People with Dementia?

Due to the nature of dementia, those suffering can’t always communicate their feelings effectively. But with research and awareness growing, people are talking more and more about their experiences. We’ve taken a look at what is being discussed, and have found some useful tips for dementia carers to help their loved ones or clients live with dementia

1. The person you know is still there.

Amidst the forgetfulness and confusion, it can be easy to imagine that the person suffering with Dementia has changed. Aspects of their mind may be unrecognisable, but deep down they are still the same person. It’s important not to write-off their old self. Chances are, they are missing them as much as you are. So as often as possible, engage with the person you truly know.

2. It’s not simply an age issue.

Of course, dementia is more prominent in older people, but there are also over 40,000 people under the age of 65 living with dementia in the UK, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia is not simply a side-effect of ageing; it is something the affects many different people, in many different ways.


3. Good days and bad days will all come and go.

The nature of the condition makes it unpredictable, which means that a good day can turn bad, but then a not-so-good moment can also turn right around. When caring from someone with dementia, going with the flow is a way of life.

4. Trying to reason might not go well. 

In many cases, dementia can lead to irrational thoughts and feelings, which means that it can often strip a person of their ability to reason. This isn’t to say that disagreements need to be totally extinguished, although the scalability of them should be carefully measured.  

5. It’s more than forgetting things.

Forgetting names and faces is an unfortunate aspect of many people’s experience, but dementia can be much more than that. Dementia can mean hallucinations, delusions, angers and other disruptive effects. Each one of these present an unpleasant situation, which means that dementia care is ultimately about gaining a fuller understanding, so that these symptoms can be suitably handled when they occur.

6. We know that something is going on.

Dementia is a disorder that disorientates the brain - something that can undoubtedly lead to confusion. The realisation that something is not quite right can be distressing for those dealing with dementia, so it’s often beneficial to help embrace changes rather than to add to any confusion.

7. We’re still adults.

There’s a tricky, fine line to be tiptoed along here. In a distressing, lonely, confusing time, it’s easy to find your tone of voice softening and body language becoming more animated. Each and every person is different, so there is always personal preference, but when it comes to dementia care, it is always worth remembering that the person in question is not a child.

8. Our eyes still work.

Though some aspects of a dementia sufferer's mind may not be as they were before, other parts may be perfectly unaffected. Much like the first point, it’s vital to always be aware of how they are feeling and how they would like to be treated. Something as simple as keeping eye contact can boost the confidence of someone who may be feeling low or left out. 


9.We know it’s hard.

Caring for someone with dementia is by no means an easy feat, and dealing with dementia is certainly not a walk in the park either. It’s this mutual appreciation that can help relationships strengthen in these situations, and ensure that everyone is as comfortable as they can be.

To learn more about dementia and dementia care services, get in touch with Sova Healthcare, a team of leading healthcare specialists in Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford, to discuss how we can help you and your loved ones.