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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.

There’s no denying that Alzheimer’s can have a terrible impact on the lives of sufferers and their loved ones, and with diagnosis rates steadily rising, management of the disease is now more important than ever. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimers, but, as its prevalence continues to increase, notably with the aging of the baby boomers generation, research has been stepped up, and it looks as though there might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel.

A new study, published in the journal of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology in February 2015, claims that to have found a way of stopping Alzheimer’s in its tracks, which could lead to the development of a new drug which would have the ability to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s, when taken in the earliest stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s is caused by the formation of plaques in the brain, which hamper nerve cells and interfere with brain function. However, the research revealed that the use of a certain molecule, found naturally in human lungs, can halt this process, and prevent the creation of more plaques.There is still some way to go before this research can be used to develop a drug, but nonetheless, this discovery could lead to a preventative treatment for potentially millions of individuals, allowing them to lead normal lives well into old age.

Another recent study, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine in March 2015, was conducted by scientists from the University of Queensland, and explored the use of ultrasound to restore brain function in mice with Alzheimer’s. Ultrasound was used to remove the abnormal clumps of brain proteins caused by the disease, and the mice showed a 50% reduction in the amount of plaques following 5-7 weeks’ of treatment, which allowed them to regain lost brain activity. Again this research is in its early stages, but the results on mice were promising, and this will lead to medical trials of the treatment in humans over the next few years. 

Finally, some research from Duke University in North Carolina, published in the Journal of Neuroscience in April 2015, claims to have shed light on the cause of Alzheimer’s which could lead to a whole new wave of treatment options. The study revealed that when Alzheimer’s takes hold, immune cells that normally protect the brain instead start to consume an important brain nutrient called arginine, which leads to the suppression of the immune system. By blocking this process with a drug (DFMO), the team observed that plaques were prevented from forming in the brains of mice, leaving neurological function unaffected.

Currently Alzheimer’s and dementia affect more than 830,000 people in the UK alone, so the ramifications of these discoveries are very far reaching indeed. However, although these results are promising, treatment remains some way off, and even with significant advances in research, it will still be a number of years before any medication will be available to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s.

At Sova Healthcare we know the life changing consequences that this cruel illness can have, and that’s why we’re dedicated to offering a care package which is entirely tailored to you, to help make things a little easier. We will work with you and your loved ones to develop a unique care plan, and we can provide as much, or as little assistance as you require. 

If you’d like to find out more about care available for Alzheimer’s sufferers, please visit our dedicated Alzheimer’s Home Care page, or contact us to talk through your requirements with a friendly member of our team.

Photograph by Bev Sykes.
Over one million people have now signed up to The Alzheimer's Society's groundbreaking 'Dementia Friends' initiative.

Dementia Friends

The programme originally launched two years ago, and it aims to educate the general public on what dementia is, how to spot the symptoms, and how to help those suffering from the illness, in order to eradicate the fear and isolation felt by many with the disease. The plan is working towards creating 'dementia friendly communities' with support networks across the country.

Although there are an estimated 720,000 people suffering from dementia in England alone, many have not been diagnosed. Prime Minister David Cameron has called it "one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime", and the government has announced that it will be providing more than £300m to tackle dementia during the next parliament.

If you'd like to sign up to become a Dementia Friend, you can join the initiative here.

Learn how to spot the signs of dementia.

Do you know someone with the following symptoms?

  • Memory loss, especially problems with remembering recent events
  • Increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
  • Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Depression

How can Sova Healthcare help those suffering from dementia?

Dementia can be a very challenging condition to care for. Sufferers, and their friends and family, can be put under a lot of strain, so it is of vital importance that the right help is received. At Sova Healthcare, we understand that every case of dementia is unique, and that it will affect you and your family in different ways. This is why our specialist care package is tailored to individuals, so you can be sure that your personal requirements will be taken into account. Our highly trained and experienced carers will provide compassionate and sensitive care for those with dementia in their own homes, allowing them to retain their independence for as long as possible.

If you would like to find out more about our services, please visit our dementia care page, or contact us for more information.