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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.

With an ageing baby boomer generation, and few concrete, scientific advancements towards a prescribed drug or treatment in the last 10 years, Dementia and Alzheimer’s have become increasingly concerning conditions in the UK. As a result, the urgency to find a treatment is also becoming a pressing concern, as researchers endeavour to find a way of preventing the progression of these diseases.

With the increase in awareness, it has been incredibly encouraging to witness a greater commitment from governments, organisations and charities towards funding Alzheimer’s research in the hope of finding a cure; a commitment we can only hope will pay off in the near future. 

What is Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?


Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia are both currently incurable conditions which affect a person's brain, causing symptoms such as a decline of memory, as well as struggling with speaking or orientation, which can impede on sufferer’s quality of life and often require specialist care. As a result, they are diseases that can put a lot of strain on the families of sufferers, as well as the individuals themselves.

Currently, there are more than 850,000 people in Britain suffering with Dementia, and over the next 30 years the number of people to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to go into the tens of millions, as the population continues to age. Although therapists and scientists have been making progress on issues such as how to best live with dementia, the need to find an effective cure still remains. 

The New Alzheimer’s and Dementia Breakthrough


Earlier this year, there was a possible breakthrough towards discovering a treatment for Dementia. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, while researching a new type of Cancer drug, found a possible way to reduce the risk of people developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin when clumps of deformed protein, known as amyloid, build-up in the brain. 

These researchers found while testing a drug called Bexarotene, currently used to treat Lymphoma, that it could potentially stop these build ups of protein, thus preventing Alzheimer’s in later life. 

This therapy is called ‘neurostatin’, and lead researcher Prof Michele Vendruscolo believes people will be taking ‘neurostatin’ as early as their 30’s, to help prevent a build-up of amyloid and consequently stop the progress of the disease in the human brain.

Although it is still too soon to say whether this is the concrete breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research that has been awaited for the last decade, this discovery is extremely positive and can undoubtedly lead to preventing the number of potential Dementia cases in the future. 

As leading providers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia care services, we understand how these diseases can be great strains on sufferers and their loved ones. We also understand the need for people who are battling Alzheimer’s or Dementia to remain as independent as possible, and their wish to be able to continue living in their own home, which is why we provide a range of tailored home care services to ensure the highest quality of life to all of our clients.

If you’re interested in our Alzheimer’s and Dementia care services, please feel free to download our brochure, or get in touch with either our Birmingham, Bradford or Leicester offices for more information. 
alzheimer's disease

The fight against Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia is an ongoing battle, but this year we've seen some major breakthroughs in research as we come closer to a cure. 

Since the first case was diagnosed over a century ago by Dr. Alois, Alzheimer, our understanding of this disease has evolved greatly. It was not so long ago that people assumed Alzheimer’s and Dementia could simply occur in old age; it’s only in recent times that we have learnt that this is not the case. With predictions that over 150 million people worldwide will suffer from Alzheimer’s in the next 20 years, 2015 has been a big year with significant triumphs and advancements in the fight against Alzheimer’s. 

Alzheimer’s Blood Test Could Give Early Diagnosis 


British researchers have developed a test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages, before any physical symptoms are visible. 

This is recognized through ‘markers’ in a patient’s blood, which are different from those seen in healthy people. This research was conducted at the University of Nottingham, and researchers are now developing a quick and easy test to be performed in clinics. 

This early diagnosis can give potential sufferers a chance to change aspects of their diet and lifestyle, as well as starting treatment earlier in order to stem the disease. 

Miniature Brain-in-a-Dish can Help Advance Alzheimer’s Research 


Rene Anand, Professor of Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology at Ohio State University, and a research team have developed an organoid that looks like a miniature human brain. 

This miniature human brain has been grown ethically through the use of human skin cells, and coaxed into developing to resemble that of a 5 month old fetus. Not only could this open up new avenues of testing in the pursuit towards finding a cure, but it could also remove the need to use rats and mice in order to conduct research, a practice which is considered by most to be outdated and unethical.

Virtual Reality Maze ‘Predicts Alzheimer’s Disease’ 


A study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease can be detected years before any physical symptoms are made apparent, through the use of a virtual reality test. People aged 18 to 30, an age group that is unlikely to be worried about Alzheimer’s disease, were are asked to navigate through a virtual maze in order to test the function of certain brain cells. 

This study, led by Lukas Kunz of the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Disease in Bonn, showed results which could "provide a new basic framework for preclinical research on Alzheimer’s disease", and "provide a neurocognitive explanation of spatial disorientation in Alzheimer’s disease.” While it is far from certain that the young people in this study will go on to develop Alzheimer’s, characterising early brain changes associated with genetic risk factors is vital, in helping researchers better understand why some people are more likely be at risk of developing the disease in later life. 

Government Pledges £300m on Dementia Research 


Earlier this year, the government pledged more that 300 million pounds worth of research into dementia, as well as providing additional training for NHS workers on how to care for people suffering with Dementia. 

Prime Minister, David Cameron has described the disease as “one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime”. As well as pledging funds to research and Alzheimer’s care, the government is also said to be setting up separate multi-million pound investment schemes, to discover new drugs and treatments in order to slow the onset of the disease, progressing towards a cure by 2025. 

This might not be a huge medical breakthrough, but considering Alzheimer’s and Dementia are one of the most underfunded research areas in medicine, this is a significant step in the right direction. 

Alzheimer’s Researchers Find Molecule That Delays Onset of Disease 


Earlier this year, a research team at the University of Cambridge found evidence to suggest that an isolated, crucial molecule secreted naturally by the human body, could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. 

This study performed on mice, showed that the molecule referred to as a ‘housekeeping’ molecule, can stop the process in the brain that leads to common forms of Dementia. The substance works by slowing the build of up of protein clips in the brain, which typically appear years before symptoms such as memory loss arise. 

Although the research still has some progress to make, notably towards converting this discovery into a drug, this could potentially be the most important breakthrough since the first diagnosis. 
Samuel Cohen, who led the study, revealed these findings in an enlightening Ted Talk, stating that they have “come up with a general strategy that could work.”

While 2015 has brought with it a number of small victories in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, we are far from finished. It is a disease which affects approximately 850,000 people living in the UK alone, and doctors are predicting that the number will grow in coming years. 

We at Sova Healthcare can see the damage and strain such diseases can cause families, which is why we strive to to provide you with the best Alzheimers home care and support services. We understand how cruel this disease can be, and that’s why our staff are highly trained and experienced in caring for your loved ones as they learn how to live with Alzheimer’s. You can download our brochure for more information, or get in touch with a member of our friendly team to discuss how we can best help you and your loved ones.