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Depression among the elderly has been found to increase risks of dementia, as well as sometimes also constituting an early stage symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression in the elderly

In fact, a study from the American Medical Association (AMA) published in May 2012 revealed a positive correlation between symptoms of depression manifested during midlife or late life and higher risks of developing dementia.  
Although often overlooked because associated with getting older, depression is a serious symptom that ought to be taken into account to ensure the wellbeing and mental health of older generations. 

Symptoms of depression are not always easy to identify, making it harder for relatives, friends and carers to provide the additional support needed, and thus help reduce the risks of developing dementia, and notably Alzheimer’s disease.

What is depression?


Depression is a common mental illness and is becoming increasingly common amongst the elderly with 1 in 5 older people are affected by depression living at home and 2 in 5 living in care homes.

It does not discriminate and can affect anyone from any culture, background or age but the elderly are more affected than any other age group, mostly due to the following reasons:
  • Increased chances of isolation
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Bereavement
  • Other health problems affecting morale
Depression manifests itself in many ways, common symptoms being:
  • Sadness and feelings of abandonment
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Insomnia
  • Increased use of alcohol and/or other substances
Although family and friends will pay close attention to person they caring for, they can sometimes remain unaware that their loved ones are afflicted. With this condition, it makes caring for an older person much more difficult as the depression causes them to be unfocused, fatigued and neglecting personal care.

Older people being more likely to be affected by depression when being cared for in a care home, making sure that home care services are opted for when possible would help reduce the risks of depression, allowing the client to remain in their own familiar environment and preserving their independence as much as possible.

What is dementia?


Dementia is a decline in mental ability, which mostly affects memory, perception and problem-solving as well as cognitive thinking. Much like depression, this disease can affect anyone, and increasingly older people, with a growing number of individuals being diagnosed each year as the baby boom generation grows older. 

As you can imagine, caring for someone with dementia is incredibly difficult as the condition worsens, especially when they lose the ability to speak and communication becomes very limited. Simple day-to-day things become difficult, such as feeding and cleaning themselves, which is when it becomes crucial for health, safety, and comfort reasons to seek adequate dementia care services

How to help older people suffering from depression


Support Groups 

Both people suffering from depression and their loved ones and/or caregivers can find joining a support group helpful and encouraging, enabling them to share their stories, exchange advice, and seek reassurance in realising they are not alone. Such groups can easily be found online or within your local community. 

Treatment & Therapy for Depression

There is medication available that can help contain and manage depression, depending on the individual, which can help them regain control and motivation. GPs and therapists highly recommend daily walks in the outdoors, keeping active and pursuing hobbies as an effective way of combating depression. Seeing a therapist or joining group therapy can also be a great alternative to reduce isolation by providing an opportunity to meet new people and open up about depression, hereby engaging in a mutual support system which will in turn participate to enhancing self-esteem. 

Unfortunately, there is currently still no cure for dementia or Alzheimer's, other than treating it with medication if the cause is a protein deficiency to the brain cells or with surgery, if caused by some form of head trauma, yet both can only manage or maintain the symptoms to an extent. Patients diagnosed at an earlier stage are recommended to take up regular exercise and various types of therapy to help keep their body and mind sharp, to help diminish the development of the disease.

Indeed, recommended un-medicated treatment methods for these forms of dementia are extremely similar if not identical to those of depression, reinforcing the association of both conditions.

Professional Home Care Services

Some people are cautious about hiring a professional carer but they can be great support and assurance, not only for the client, but also for their entourage.

When an older person shows symptoms of depression, home care services such as social companionship care services, with which a healthcare professional not only provides care but also emotional support to your loved one hereby creating a trustworthy relationship could significantly help them get through such a challenging time. Indeed, building that close compassionate relationship while helping them through that difficult period and encouraging them through treatment and therapy could thus also decrease the likelihood of developing dementia. 

If you have noticed such symptoms or conditions affecting one of your loved ones, do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of a friendly team to discuss the various ways in which we can help them, as well as you. Alternatively, you can also give us a call on 0800 688 8866 for more information and to discuss your situation further.
Alzheimer's Care

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of Dementia can impact every aspect of a carer's daily life. As Alzheimer’s develops, caregivers will be faced with tests of stamina, problem solving, and resiliency.

Some of the most common situations caregivers face can be truly heart breaking and can sometimes be very difficult to deal with for loved ones and friends.

Alzheimer’s disease not only impacts the daily life of the person affected by it, but is also a very challenging disease to care for, yet these challenges caregivers are faced with on a daily basis are often overlooked, notably as most research and studies aim to focus on the disease itself rather than the ways in which it can be made more bearable. Whilst science is making groundbreaking progress towards finding ways to prevent it, and even maybe a cure one day, carers and sufferers still have to deal with the disease every day.

Nowadays, many care systems are available for sufferers to help them remain comfortable, yet the challenges faced by caregivers in providing them with the best support are often overlooked.

Although every client is different and unique, caregivers often encounter similar situations, which can be made more tolerable if dealt with in certain ways, based on discussions and expert advice from some professional Alzheimer's carers.
 

1. If the person you care for no longer recognises you


If someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, there might come a day when they can no longer recognise or acknowledge you, which will most likely be one of the most heartbreaking experiences you could be faced with, which is why it is even often considered one of the hardest consequences or most challenging symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. In such situation, it is important to remember that as hard as it is, the person suffering is not aware of this lack of recognition, and that they are in no pain, which is often a carer’s primary concern.

How can you help?

Try and visit the person you care for as much as you can: If the person suffering from Alzheimer’s is living in a care facility, it’s important to visit them frequently. Family members might think there is no real positive impact which can come from visiting someone that doesn’t recognise you anymore, yet there are several reasons why continuing to visit does matter, including the following:
  1. The person you care for may actually unconsciously recognise you, but the disease doesn’t allow them to express this recognition.  
  2. The person may remember how often you visit, despite the fact that they might be unaware of their relationship with you.
  3. The person may enjoy having a visitor, despite the fact that he or she may not be completely aware of who you are.
  4. If the person enjoys or even acknowledges your visit, you may feel gratified you’ve given him or her comfort and support, which can help with the care of this disease.
Alternatively, if someone is cared from in their own home, the familiarity of the surrounding, and memory triggers around their house are likely to help them remember you, even if only from time to time, which is why being by their side as often as possible will help reassure and comfort them in these moments of lucidity.

2. If the person loses the ability to talk


If the person you are caring for has Alzheimer’s and become unable to verbally communicate with you, then you may feel like you can’t connect with them anymore. Although this is a common reaction, it is important to keep in mind that connecting and communicating with another person is not exclusively a verbal process. Indeed, there are several forms of nonverbal communications that can help you reach out to the person you care for, which can truly make a difference.

How can you help?

Here are three of the most supportive and empathetic non-verbal communication methods:
  1. Physical contact
  2. Smiling and making eye contact
  3. Using visual and audio aids (photos, paintings and music)

3. If it has become time to consider a care home


This is the last and perhaps one of the most painful and difficult experiences you may encounter, especially when caring for a relative. Most of the time, Alzheimer’s home care services can be sufficient, as care packages are flexible according to the client’s needs, yet if you need to involve care homes in his or her care, it can be extremely difficult, not only for that person but also for caregivers and carers, whom are often overwhelmed by a feeling of letting down the person they care for.

How can you help?

We know this can be a truly heartbreaking decision to make, which is why the best approach to this particular situation is often to discuss it and talk about it by the person it concerns, explaining the reasoning behind the decision, as well as highlighting how this will help care for their health and safety. Such decision will also affect carers personally, as often followed by a feeling of guilt, which is why it is important that you surround yourself with your loved ones, whom will in turn be able to reassure you have made the right decision.

It is important to try and keep in mind that the person you are caring for will often not be fully aware of the situation, and its gravity, which on a positive side enables them to continue enjoying meaningful moments without worrying about the future, helping them in a way avoid fear and pain, any carer’s priority. Nonetheless, trying to keep the person suffering of Alzheimer’s in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible has often proven to help stimulate their memory, and reduce their disorientation.

We are fully aware how challenging and heartbreaking this disease can be for family and friends and carers, notably in the eventuality of a passing, which is why, if you find yourself struggling to come to terms with someone’s passing, we recommend that you seek professional advice and care, to help you get through such a difficult time by providing you with the adequate support.

For more information on the Alzheimer’s care services and other home care services we offer, download our brochure, or if you wish to discuss your needs and requirements in more details, call us on 0800 688 8866 or simply get in touch with a member of our friendly team.
Hogewey Care Centre dementia village

Dementia care is constantly evolving, as research continues to advance towards improve treatments and care provided to those affected by such a dreadful disease, getting closer to the hope of someday finding a cure. Based upon recent medical breakthroughs, two medical centres have designed unique dementia caring methods last year, hereby catching the attention of the media as well as scientists across the world due to their groundbreaking approach on how to best care for dementia sufferers whilst offering them the best quality of life they could possible get in such challenging times. These are the two centres which have truly inspired us at Sova Healthcare to continuously seek new ways to provide the most adequate home care services to our clients:

Ivy House: Accepting Dementia

One of the most recent cases of revolutionary dementia care was brought to our attention this year as Channel 4 aired “Dementiaville”. This program followed residents during a standard day at Ivy House, warmly sharing a brighter side to dementia care for the elderly. This program aimed to bring light to the unique caring methods used by the centre, as well as the comprehensive cognitive therapy provided by the carers at Poppy Lodge.

In order to help their patients, the hard working carers and therapists of the home do not attempt to correct or rectify the confusion of the patients but instead embrace and encourage what the sufferers are believing. This approach is adopted by everyone associated with Ivy House, as they strongly believe in the provision of individualistic and person-centred care for people with dementia.

They understand that each person is different and focus on working alongside patients’ families and loved ones to fully understand an individual’s needs, a truly fundamental belief at Sova Healthcare. This particular approach to dementia is now becoming a method which many care facilities around the UK are taking on board; rather than correcting dementia sufferers, they are making sure the residents are comfortable and happy with their beliefs, despite battling such an illness.

Hogewey Care Centre

Similar to the Ivy Lodge, Hogewey Care Centre is designed specifically as a pioneering care facility for elderly people with dementia, and laid out to function as a village exclusive for dementia sufferers.

Also known as a “Dementia Village”, all of the residents of this care centre are freely living a seemingly normal life, having access to restaurants, supermarkets, hairdressers and even a theatre whilst being surrounded by beautiful landscapes and courtyards. All of these facilities are in fact ran by the carers of the patients whom also live on site alongside with the residents. This enables the carers to care for their patients with severe cases of dementia in the best way possible, whilst simultaneously monitoring the progress made from this unique caring method, which has already have a huge impact on dementia research and proven particularly helpful to supporting sufferers of such a disorientating and confusing illness.

How accepting dementia is helping sufferers

According to the World Health Organisation, 35.6 million people across the world are suffering of dementia with 7.7 million new cases being diagnosed every year. At this rate, the number of people with dementia is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. Yet, with such revolutionary care methods encouraging scientific breakthrough and treatment developments, we are hoping for these numbers to be cut down significantly.

These environmental settings are making a considerable difference in the way we take care of people who suffer from both cognitive and behavioral problems associated with dementia. According to Dr. Paul Newhouse, who is the director of Vanderbilt University's Center for Cognitive Medicine:

"These particular practices are really the key to improving quality of life for these patients without excess medication."

Some may say the initial $25 million spent on this particular facility is excessive, yet it is actually similar to more traditional nursing homes in Europe at around €5,000 per month. Indeed, although representing a larger investment at the start, the long term cost of living will become very similar to more traditional facilities, whilst the benefits of these care “villages” will be considerably greater. 

Critics have claimed that these environmental practices tend to fool residents into “living in a fantasy world”, which is not what these centres aim to do. As a matter of fact, carers of residents - although not seeking to correct the residents when reminiscing memories, background or experiences - do not deceive them either. Indeed, if directly asked, they will truthfully tell residents they are in a place where they can receive required care for their condition. 

According to a CNN report in 2013, the Hogewey approach is showing that not only are patients getting the care and attention they deserve, they are also eating better and taking less medication, which could lead to a longer lifespan due to not being medically dependent on prescription drugs.

At Sova Healthcare, we truly believe that not only is this method an ethically better solution to dementia care, but is an approach that more UK care providers should learn from considering the positive impact it has have on dementia sufferers.

This is why we always keep up to date with all the current and future treatments having the potential to help caring for dementia sufferers in order to provide our clients with the best dementia care services available. We are always looking out for any advancement that could benefit our clients. We pride ourselves on the quality of our care services and always make sure that you get the best care and attention possible entirely tailored to your personal needs and requirements.

For more information on the dementia home care services we offer, download our brochure, or if you wish to discuss your needs and requirements in more details, call us on 0800 688 8866 or simply get in touch with a member of our friendly team.
Telehealth

Care service providers have had to drastically adapt to modern day technology over the past decade, as it is constantly evolving and impacting our lives, one way or another. Not only is it affecting businesses throughout the globe, it's also had a huge impact on a number of healthcare services.

You may not be aware of this, but the breakthroughs in digital healthcare are making a huge difference to everyone's life for the greater good. Healthcare experts are constantly coming up with new and innovative ideas to change and improve healthcare for future generations.

However simple or sophisticated, there has been a truly remarkable change in the way we look at digital health tools and how they are changing the ways in which you interact with your healthcare team and carers.

How have digital advancements improved global healthcare?


The impact of technology on healthcare is simply staggering, although you may be assuming that we are referring to the equipment used in health centres.

Highly accurate data consumption

Online access to personal health information, such as lab results, current medications and other vital data, has helped health professionals to provide safe and effective care, which in turn allows healthcare professionals to track your care, ease your anxiety, and facilitate discussions and secure sharing with your family and home care services providers.

Improved communication

This aspect of healthcare is something that has been improved significantly in recent years. With medical records now available online, the likes of electronic prescriptions and requests for renewals have been upgraded in order to reduce the amount of manual errors, which may occur in this particular sector of healthcare, thereby also making it easier for carers to verify. Indeed, too many have experienced misreading a piece of handwriting, which then resulted in the wrong medication and prescription being provided.

Telehealth, or the process of delivering health-related services via telecommunications technologies, is a prime example of improving communications between patients and their advisors. Telehealth is a huge breakthrough as it not only reduces the need for patients to travel (which can be a major factor, especially for someone who has restricted travel access or a severe disability), it is also fantastic for doctors, who may not be able to access some rural communities, giving them the ability to provide care services through video conferencing and online consultations.

The growing demand for doctors and GPs not always being met, we can't stress enough how important a healthcare professional becomes to a patient. This particular method reduces the need for in-person appointments, giving home care services' clients the option to potentially consult from their homes, with their carers alongside them. With ready access to test results - like blood work - duplication of testing can also be reduced, saving clients time and getting them treatment sooner.

Crucial remote monitoring for emergency situations

We fully appreciate that all clients' medical history is an entirely private matter, which - if accessible remotely and online - could be highly beneficial in the long term. All of your details would of course remain private and confidential, but could make all of the difference. If you were to suffer an accident and you were cared for by an emergency department staff who aren't familiar with your medical history and record, remote online access could then ensure that you our your loved ones receive appropriate and informed care in an emergency situation.

Management of complex or chronic conditions

With the ongoing advancements of digital platforms and smart device technologies, there are hundreds of fantastic applications that have been created to monitor and stimulate your health frequently. For those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, digital health can make day-to-day monitoring and tracking much easier, helping you to track what you eat, the exercise you do, your sleep cycles, etc. Electronic portals are enabling patients to be a more active part of their own care team by actively 'playing' games which help stimulate brain activity and - notably for Dementia and Alzheimer's care services clients - memory.

In 2014, the NHS announced their plans for technological advancements which they aim to have in place within the next 5 years:
  • NHS 'Kitemarks' for trusted smartphone apps, which will help patients access services and take more control of their health and wellbeing in 2015.

  • Patients are to be able to access their own GP record from spring 2015, and will have full access to care records by 2018. Patients will also be able to record their own comments.

  • Patients will only have to tell their story once. With consent, care records will be available electronically across the health system by 2018 for urgent care services, and 2020 for all services - dramatically improving co-ordination of care, particularly for those with complex conditions.

  • Introducing a digital 'red book' - helping parents to manage their child's early health records - in 2016.

  • Ensuring that the NHS remains a leader in the global race to fight disease and a hub for genomics research. Developing innovative personalised medicines will mean the right treatment, first time.
At Sova Healthcare, we are keeping up to date with al the current and future technological advancements within healthcare, always looking out for any advancement which could benefit our clients and the quality of our care services in order to ensure that you get the best care and attention possible, for yourself or for a loved one. If you have any questions regarding any of the home care services that we offer, or if you wish to discuss your needs and requiremetns, call us on 0800 688 8866 or simply get in touch with a member of our friendly team.
Elderly care

Elderly care can be very challenging, the line between adequate care, attentive support and independence being very thin and sometimes delicate. When caring for the elderly, we can all do our bit to ensure that independence is being promoted. A recent article in the Guardian suggested that few in the UK feel older people have a good quality of life. According to Age UK, nearly 900,000 older people now have unmet needs for social care. With the proportion of older people in the country due to rise from 23% to 28% and the number of those aged 85+ set to double by 2030, we have a joint responsibility as a population to promote quality of life for older people and ensure that we are avoiding negative stereotyping and casual ageism.

This is why our various home care services can be adapted to every single client's personal needs and requirements, ensuring that older clients receive the quality of care that they deserve. At Sova Healthcare, we also ensure that all staff are compliant with Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Disclosed Barring Service (DBS) procedures, and that all of our care services are defined by providing the best quality of life for everyone regardless of age, gender, disability or illness. Likewise, we all have an individual responsibility to look out, care for, support and assist elderly people as much as we can whilst respecting their independence.

In doing so, here are a few aspects to consider and take into account when engaging with older people:

Older people can be lonely

Loneliness is a key factor when considering quality of life. Now considered a serious public health issue, isolation has been proven to impact blood pressure and is closely linked to depression. Helping limit isolation can help improve an older person's quality of life, while enabling them to remain in the comfort of their own home. Community initiatives are helping to tackle loneliness for those who do not necessarily have any family nearby to see, but likewise, many of us are able to have a positive impact on an older person's life by spending valuable social time with them. Your spare time can be a source of vital companionship and emotional support. Alternatively, we can also provide companionship care services, helping older people to manage their everyday tasks whilst also keeping them company.

Allowing for independence

If you are caring for an older person, promotion of independence is key to not only quality of life but also to their morale. Often, losing your independence can lead to compensative voluntary isolation, and sometimes even depression. Being supportive and caring is key, and yet not being overpowering or overbearing can really help to promote independence. Considering when you don't necessarily need to assist can not only help mobility but also remind older people that they are still independent and respected. For example, an able older person can often complete simple household tasks, and allowing for this ensures that they are not being made to feel fully dependent and therefore maintain their regular physical activities and morale.

Respecting, nurturing and valuing relationships

Maintaining the promotion of independence as integral to your relationship will naturally raise an older person's quality of life. Some older people may be reluctant, but if you can make someone feel respected and let them know that you are still seeing them as individuals, they will often be instilled with a sense of pride and a heightened sense of identity.

Ensuring that care needs are met

Allowing for independence is crucial, but you also need to make sure that care needs are being met, notably with recent concerns. An older person might decide to opt for domiciliary care services rather than going to a care home, simply to as to remain in the comfort of their own home and preserve their independence. This is a great decision - if the quality of the care services is adequate.

This is why we at Sova Healthcare strive to offer a wide range of home care services, such as night care services for the most independent. Indeed, we assess each situation based purely on an older person's needs, and there are a variety of enhanced care options available, such as assisted living, home care, and Alzheimer's and dementia care services.

If you are looking for specialist elderly care services, or if you would simply like more information, get in touch with one of our branches, email us, or call a member of our friendly team on 0800 688 8866.