Need Specialist Care? Contact our team today
0800 688 8866

Healthcare Advice - Blog | Sova Healthcare

Everyday life with dementia

Over 850,000 people are suffering from dementia in the UK, and this figure is expected to rise to over 1 million by 2025. It's also predicted that 225,000 will develop dementia this year - one person will be diagnosed every three minutes. Dementia is an umbrella term for a progressive and degenerative brain disease, and has over 200 different subtypes. The five most common types of dementia are:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Mixed dementia

What is dementia?

The human brain is made up of nerve cells (neurones) that send messages as a way of communicating with each other. Dementia damages the brain's nerve cells, which means that messages can't be sent to and from the brain effectively, preventing the body from functioning normally.

Dementia and everyday life

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease impacts Activities of Daily Living (ADL), making it difficult for those with the disease to complete simple activities that we often take for granted, such as bathing, doing laundry or cleaning. It is important to remember that not every person suffering from dementia will look dishevelled and unkempt, and different stages of the disease will alter the way in which the person in question will complete the task.

Why does dementia have an impact on everyday life?

Because dementia is a progressive and degenerative brain disease, it impedes messages that are transmitted in the brain. These messages help people execute day-to-day activities that we often see as mundane and take for granted. Here are the following functions that dementia affects, and the ADL this alters.

Executive Functioning

Dementia affects a person's executive functioning, making it challenging for them to complete simple tasks, and the steps that go into them, such as having a shower or getting dressed. All of these day-to-day tasks have a sequence of steps, which is why it isn't uncommon to see people wearing underwear over their trousers.

Dementia impedes the brain's ability to sequence, plan and organise multiple-step activities. For those who want to continue living at home after their dementia diagnosis, assisted-living carers are a great way to help you maintain your independence in the comfort of your own home. Domiciliary Home Care Services for dementia patients means that day-to-day living activities such as bathing and getting dressed will be much easier, as there is added support.

Memory

Memory loss is one of the most renowned symptoms of dementia, and this disease affects both long-term and short-term memory. Whether it is forgetting where you grew up or how to make a cup of tea, sometimes the person with dementia may forget how to perform ADL tasks such as how to clean your teeth or put clean clothes on. Having a live-in carer support you with day-to-day activities you find you might struggle with can help you keep your independence and stay in the comfort of your own home.

Judgement and attention

Due to the lack of signals being sent around the brain, judgement, attention and decision making are notably affected. This can be something as simple as choosing to turn the heating on during the middle of winter, or deciding that you're going to the shop in the middle of the night. This lack of judgement and attention can also be quite dangerous for the person in question, and others around them - for example, they might leave the oven on or forget to blow a candle out. Domiciliary care and night care can help dementia patients with their judgement, as a live-in carer or visiting carer may help guide them to make safer decisions, whilst allowing them to keep their own independence.

Behavioural and psychological symptoms

Many family members find that the behaviour of their loved ones has changed in the later stages of dementia. In some instances, they find their loved ones resist any help or assistance with day-to-day activities, further complicating things. Specialist care services from professional dementia and Alzheimer’s carers will help to alleviate this.

How can family members help dementia patients with everyday living activities?

  • Stay calm
  • Give one direction at a time
  • Prioritise what is important
  • Give day-to-day tasks extra time to decrease stress
  • Use humour (appropriately)
  • Get to know the caregiver and build a good rapport
  • Take a break if it's not going well and try again later
  • Practice the activity in the same routine every day
Get in touch with Sova Healthcare today.

Stages of Dementia

With 50 million people across the world currently diagnosed with dementia, the illness affects countless numbers of people around the globe. If you or a loved one are one has recently been diagnosed with the early symptoms of dementia, then you may be looking to find out more regarding what you can expect from this progressive illness over the coming years. To help you learn and understand more about the stages of dementia, we've created an in-depth guide based on the Global Deterioration Scale to provide you with a basic understanding of the illness, and ensure that you and your loved ones are provided with all the necessary support and understanding surrounding the diagnosis of dementia.

Stage 1

Stage one relates to a healthy person whose memory and mind are both intact and functioning at a normal level. The majority of people would fall within stage one, and would be considered medically healthy and dementia free if examined by a doctor.

Stage 2

A person who falls within the stage 2 category would be subject to forgetfulness, but only on a very minor scale that is typically associated with ageing. This level of memory loss is often imperceptible and would most likely not be linked to dementia.

Stage 3

Stage three is distinctively more noticeable than the previous stage and typically represents the first diagnosable early signs of dementia. Stage three begins to affect people's daily activities, where individuals may find themselves forgetting things more frequently, experiencing difficulty concentrating, and potentially struggling to express themselves. If a person is medically diagnosed as showing symptoms of stage three dementia, then they typically have seven years before the dementia comes into full effect.

Stage 4

Perhaps the most medically diagnosable early stage of dementia, those who are displaying symptoms of stage four may struggle to perform complex tasks, as well as potentially being unable to cope with travelling or visiting new locations. The short term memory may also begin to decline, with individuals struggling to recall more recent events or memories. If someone is showing signs of falling within category four, then typically physical signs of mental deterioration should be present in medical cognitive assessments.

Stage 5

Stage five sufferers are those who start to experience a major loss of mental ability. Often needing help to complete simple day to day tasks, individuals at stage five may require aid for getting dressed, eating, showering or other similar activities. Within stage five, memory capacity dips significantly and people may struggle to forget more significant parts of their lives such as where they live or what day it is.

Stage 6

Those who fall within stage six of the Global Deterioration Scale are typically described as experiencing the 'middle stages' of dementia. This means that often extensive care and assistance have to be given in order to help the individual accomplish the majority of simple tasks. Physical deterioration also starts to become more prevalent, where those suffering from stage six dementia may begin to lose control of both their bladder and their speech. Memory loss also becomes increasingly extensive, with individuals frequently forgetting their family members, friends, and even who they are themselves. Some may even experience hallucinations or false memories where they are convinced certain things are true that are not.

Stage 7

Medically associated as being the 'final' stage of dementia, stage seven typically occurs within two and a half years of an individual hitting stage six. During this final phase, a person frequently loses all ability to communicate or help themselves due to a build up of abnormal proteins within the brain that slowly degenerate and 'kill off' the cranial cells. Frequently resulting in individuals being unable to walk, talk or eat by themselves, those experiencing stage seven of dementia require nearly full time care in order to help them accomplish basic bodily functions.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with dementia, why not reach out to one of our friendly professional team to see what we can do to help and support you every step of the way.

Finding the right home care agency and care workers for your loved ones can be a difficult task. We have put together a useful list of the right questions to ask when searching for home care services, knowing the right questions to ask can make all the difference to ensure you are making the right decision. 

About the care workers the agency provides: 


  • Do you carry out background checks on your care workers?
  • Do you carry out a DBS?
  • What type of qualifications do your caregivers have and do they receive regular training?
  • Do you require your care workers to have a minimum amount of experience?
  • What type of training do they receive and how often is this updated?
  • Are your caregivers insured through your agency?
  • What is your reference policy for your care workers? Are they required to give at least 2 written references?
  • Will my relative have a regular care worker?
  • What if a care worker is unable to make it due to ill health or bad weather conditions?
  • Will records be kept? I.e for the care that has been given and the time spent?
  • Do you provide copies of these records if requested?

About your relative’s needs

  • Will you be conducting your own assessment before offering a care plan? And what will this assessment consist of?
  • Will the needs be matched to the most suitable carer?
  • Will we be able to request a different care worker if the one provided isn’t suitable?
  • What happens in the event of a medical emergency? How is this usually dealt with?
  • If a care worker requires a key to access my relatives home, how will you ensure this is kept safe and secure?

General questions about the agency:

  • How long has your agency been providing home care services? (ask more specifically about the type of care your relative requires)
  • What are your charges for the services required?
  • Can we get a copy of the standard contract of work with private clients?
  • Do you have a standard contract for work with private clients? Can we see a copy?
  • Are your care workers/agency regulated? And by whom?
  • Is there any additional charges on weekends/bank holidays? Is care provided on these days?
  • What type of insurance do you have? Does this just cover your care workers or my relative as well?
  • Are services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Is management available 24/7?
  • Can I talk to references that have used your services recently?
  • Is it possible to have a trial period.

At Sova Healthcare we are passionate about providing the best service possible to you and your relative, if you have any questions regarding our agency, the care workers or any other general questions please do not hesitate to contact us today.

Winter weather

With Britain currently in its coldest months right now it is important to remember those most vulnerable. Although not many people like the cold weather, this is more of a worrying time for older people and especially people who suffer from Dementia. Things that might come to us naturally such as turning up the central heating or putting on a extra layer of clothing don’t always come naturally to someone with Dementia. These are things they may forget how to do or struggle to do themselves, that’s why its is important to take steps to ensure your loved ones with Dementia are safe in the colder months.

Here at Sova Healthcare we know Dementia and with our specialist care services staff working with dementia patients, we know what the most common issues can be so we’ve put together some tips on how to stay prepared in the winter months.

Preparing the house

It is recommended getting heating systems serviced before the harsher and colder months strike. Many boiler and heating system breakdowns happen at the start of winter due to heating not being used throughout the summer, this will ensure the heating and boiler are in proper working order and minimise the risk of a breakdown. It is also advisable to get extra bedding and blankets if not already available for colder nights.

Keeping warm

Clothing

This is something someone with Dementia may need help with, as in instances they can forget how to dress themselves, remember where warmer clothes are kept or not have a sense for putting on more layers for the cold. Try helping them dress where possible, also leaving clothing in places where it is visible such as on the back of the chair or bed can be really helpful. Leaving out extra blankets and throws is also helpful. When heading outdoors it is also important that they have a good insulated coat for the winter as well as some sturdy boots with a good grip to minimise risk of falling.

Central heating

As mentioned above as well as checking that central heating is in proper working order, it is important to check which temperature the heating is at and turn this slightly higher for the winter months. During the winter older people tend to feel more colder than a normal person as their circulation declines, therefore it is important for the heating to keep them warm. It is also worth ensuring that the heating is on a timer to be on at times they are most likely to be at home, you can also get home monitoring systems that will track the temperature in the house and send an alert if it falls below a certain point.

Food and drink

Ensure there is enough food at home so that they don't have to keep making trips outside, also encourage them to make hot drinks as well as having at least one hot meal a day. This will help keep them warm as well making sure they are eating properly. If they are unable to cook for themselves try and leave some ready meals in the fridge/freezer which they can heat up.

Going outdoors

Winter shoes and coat

With icy roads and cold temperatures outside, although it is advisable for older people to go outside and not stay indoors too long. It is important to ensure they are as safe as possible through having the correct clothing such as shoes with a strong grip and a good winter coat.

Walking aids

Walking aids such as walking stick, walking frames or being accompanied when outdoors can help prevent slips and falls on icy grounds.

Alarms

Providing them with a pendant fall alarm is a good idea throughout the year if they're prone to falls, but particularly so during winter.

Snow

If there has been heavy snowfall of conditions outside are icy you loved one may need assistance with clearing up driveways or gritting so that they can safely leave the house.

As well as these important factors, it is also important that you make regular contact with the person with dementia. Whether it is through using our dementia care services, where a carer can help and assist with all their needs or with regular calls and visits from yourself. This will help keep them safe and ensure they don’t become too lonely. This way they can also share any problems they are having or if they become ill.

Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is a common type of dementia, and affects an estimated 850,000 people in the UK. 62% of those with dementia have the disease in the form of Alzheimer's disease. Both Alzheimer's disease and dementia are progressive neurological diseases that affect multiple brain functions over a long period of time. The first symptom of Alzheimer's disease is usually minor problems with memory. In some cases, this could be forgetting the names of people, places and items or being unable to remember recent events or conversations.

What causes Alzheimer's disease?


It is unclear what the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown, but there are numerous things give an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's later on in life. For example:
  • Getting older
  • A family history of dementia and Alzheimer's disease
  • A history of severe head injuries
  • Conditions affecting blood vessels
  • Conditions affecting the heart
Research has shown that it is very common to have both of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia together. This is known as mixed dementia.


What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?


Because Alzheimer's is a progressive neurological disease, different functions of the brain will be affected at different times. As the disease progresses, memory loss will become more severe and other symptoms will become more prominent, such as:
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Problems planning and making decisions
  • Difficulty with speech and language
  • Issues moving around without assistance
  • Problems performing self-care tasks
  • Changes in personality, such as hallucinations and becoming aggressive, demanding, and suspicious of others
  • Low mood or anxiety

Who is affected by Alzheimer's?


Alzheimer's disease affects more women than men, and affects 1 in 14 people over the age of 65, and 1 in 6 people over the age of 80. Whilst Alzheimer's disease is most prominent in those over the age of 65, around 1 in every 20 cases of Alzheimer's disease affects those aged 40 to 65.

According to the ONS, 11.6% of registered deaths in the UK were attributed to Alzheimer's disease. Due to the nature of Alzheimer's disease, it is a fatal disease where people will pass away due to the symptoms. Utilising palliative end-of-life care will help ease the pain and make those with Alzheimer's much more comfortable before they die.


How much does dementia cost the UK?


Dementia currently costs the UK £26 billion a year,  working out at an average yearly cost of £32,250 per person with dementia. People with dementia and their families are currently paying two-thirds of the cost, with £11.6 billion in unpaid care and the rest in private social care.


How to cope when a loved one has Alzheimer's disease


If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you may find that your relationship changes. You will become the main caregiver as your loved one may no longer be able to continue with certain daily tasks such as showering, household chores and financial matters. Making all these decisions and being the main carer can feel very overwhelming - especially as you are watching the person you love change right in front of your eyes. 

Looking at types of home care services such as live-in care and domiciliary care will help ease the pressure of being a sole carer. Due to the different types of dementia, you will need require different types of care, such as specialist dementia care. If you’d like some advice regarding Alzheimer’s or have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch.