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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also remove the need to use rats and mice in order to conduct research, a practice which is considered by most to be outdated and unethical.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.
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.
Winter weather

With the cold weather now well and truly upon us, and winter just around the corner, it's normal to feel concerned about your loved ones, particularly any elderly friends or relatives who may be living on their own through these chilly months. Although winter-related mortality fell in 2013/14, there were still over 18,000 preventable deaths in England and Wales alone, with the most vulnerable group being those aged 75 and over. So what can you do to help your loved ones to get through this time safely? 

Check up on them regularly
The most important thing is to keep in contact with them regularly - ideally you should visit them in person, but if this is not practical, a daily phone call to check in with them and make sure that they have everything they need will help give you peace of mind, as well as bringing them the comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for them. 

Make sure they stay warm safely 
Speak to them about their heating and make sure their thermostat is set to an adequate temperature. It should be around 21oC in living rooms; bedrooms can go down to 18oC, but electric blankets or hot water bottles can also be used to boost temperature. You should also make sure that they have sufficient winter clothing and blankets. If you have any concern regarding their heating system, arrange for a qualified engineer to assess it. If they use gas, make sure that a carbon monoxide alarm has been fitted and that they know to leave air vents unblocked. 

If you have any concern about how your loved one will pay for heating during the winter, you can find out about the help available for winter fuel payments at Age UK.

Encourage them to stay healthy
Make sure your loved ones eat well by incorporating a variety of fruit and vegetables into their diet, and ensure that they have at least one hot meal per day. If they cook for themselves, make sure that their cupboards and freezer are well stocked in case it is too difficult for them to get to the shops during very cold spells. Encourage them to take advantage of government health initiatives such as the flu vaccine, free to anyone over 65, as well as those with underlying health conditions and weak immune systems.

Help them to avoid accidents
When ice or snow cover roads and pavements, accidents are far more likely to happen, and as elderly people are far more vulnerable to injury than younger adults, the repercussions of a slip or fall can be far more serious. If your loved one is likely to venture out in inclement weather, ask them whether you or another volunteer can run their errands for them, or accompany them on their outing. You can also assist by gritting the path and driveway surrounding their property and offer to shovel snow for them. If your loved one usually drives, suggest that they leave the car at home until the weather improves, and offer help and assistance where you can.

How Sova Healthcare can help
We know that as much as you care about your loved ones, it is not always practical to care for them, particularly if you live far away or work full time. We offer an extensive range of flexible care options, which are tailored to you, so we can offer as much or as little support as you require, allowing you to rest easy, safe in the knowledge that your loved ones are being looked after. If you’d like to find out more about how Sova Healthcare can help you, please get in touch with us today.
At Sova we are immensely proud of our staff. A service is only as a good as the people who carry it out, and that’s why we pride ourselves on offering our service users the very best care professionals. In this new series we’re exploring some of the personal stories behind our care service, and finding out what drives our staff to do such a fantastic job.


What is your full name and job title?
Vicki Skerritt, Child and Adult Care Worker

What attracted you to this line of work? 
Early in my working life, I witnessed first-hand the professionalism, commitment and skills required to be a carer, which inspired me to pursue my career in care services. It is also a flexible job that fits in around your family life, which I really value.

What do you love most about being a carer?
Being a carer is very rewarding and gives great job satisfaction. Everyday you face new challenges, and no two days are ever the same, as you are always learning new things - it's a lifelong learning curve!

How many years have you been working in this field, and what is the most important thing that you've learned?
I have worked for the NHS and as a carer for over 10 years. The most important thing I’ve learned is the value of being a really good listener. I've also discovered that even the smallest help can mean so much to someone, and also that, to truly care for someone, you must treat them as an individual and adapt to their needs

What is your most treasured memory or experience from your career? 
My most treasured memory is from an elderly lady I looked after, she always made me laugh as she had a wonderful sense of humour, and I really enjoyed listening to all of her life stories. One of her quotes still stays with me: "kindness can transform someone's dark moments with a blaze of light, you'll never know how much your caring matters".

What would your advice be for someone considering using a care service, either for themselves or for a loved one?
If you are considering using a care service, be sure to do plenty of research first. When you speak to a care provider, clearly explain what your needs are, and make sure that they can offer the full scale of care that you require. Take your time to review your options and ensure that you make the best decisions for your needs. Choosing a carer is a very personal process, so don’t be afraid to say if something isn’t right for you. If you know a carer, or someone that has been cared for, have a chat with them to find out more about their experience, and ask as many questions as you can.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career as a carer? 
If you want a career where you can make a real difference, then care is for you. For those just starting out my advice is to give the job time - it can feel very overwhelming to begin with, but don’t forget just how important your work is. Helping someone is such a rewarding and fulfilling experience. 

If you’d like to find out more about what a care service can offer for you, please get in touch with Sova Healthcare today.
old age care

At Sova Healthcare, we understand that relying on healthcare can be a stressful experience, so we want to make the process as easy as possible for you or your loved one. Financial care isn't always something that's immediately considered when someone uses care services for the first time, but we have seen hot it can make a huge difference to the well-being of our customers and their families - quite simply, we worry about the money so you don't have to.

We are one of only a handful of providers in the UK to offer an appointeeship service, which gives financial support to those with physical or mental disabilities, as well as to vulnerable adults and older people. The guidance and help that we offer allows our customers to live with more freedom, helping them to really get the best out of life.

Sova Healthcare is fully accredited by the government's Department of Work and Pensions to act as a corporate appointee and offer accountability for customers' finances. This means that we are authorised to liaise with multiple organisations, such as local authorities, on your behalf, so we can handle all financial dealings, including receipt of benefits. We are also happy to help on a personal level by agreeing a budget for bills and living expenses, and we can offer advice and assistance on saving money, as well as repaying debts.

We pride ourselves on providing unique care, tailored to our customers, through all services that we offer, and our appointeeship assistance is no exception. We understand how important independence is, so our customers can retain as much or as little control over their money as they are comfortable with. We liaise regularly with family members to ensure that we are helping our customers to achieve both their financial and their personal goals.

If you're considering monetary assistance for yourself or a loved one, please get in touch with us today, or see our list of Frequently Asked Questions to find out more about the programme. Our appointeeship staff are all highly trained in financial care, so you can be sure that you are in safe hands.