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Healthcare Advice - Blog | Sova Healthcare

Older people holding hands

Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia can severely test the vows you made to one another many moons ago. It is a very difficult and strenuous job that inevitably causes pain and grief for the person you once knew - before dementia came crashing into your lives.

However, whilst loving and caring for someone with dementia can be hard, you will find that it can be incredibly rewarding if you remember a few important things. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day (14th February), here is what you should consider when your partner has dementia:

Dementia does not define who they are.


Being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia is devastating and life-changing both for the patient and for their loved ones, but it is crucial to remember that dementia does not become that person. You knew who they were before their diagnosis, and it is important to hold on to those memories of who they really are.

Dementia is responsible for their mood swings and personality changes.


Dementia is a physical disease that causes a build-up of proteins in the brain. These proteins then form plaques that kill nerve cells and block signals / connections in the brain. This causes significant loss and damage of brain tissue, alongside the production of chemicals because important messages are no longer being delivered.

All of this is responsible for the mood swings and personality changes you see in your partner - it is imperative to remember that it is the disease that is progressing and causing this.

Learn as much as you can about dementia.


Educating yourself about dementia as much as you possibly can means that you will be able to better understand what is happening to your loved one and why. This means that you can rationalise the situation and empathise with your partner, as well as preparing for the future.

Love your partner for who they are now.


Watching the person you've spent your life with change before your very eyes is a devastating experience, but it is essential that you learn to love your partner with dementia (even as you hold on to the memories of what they were like before). Once you have grieved for the loss of the person you loved - and learned to love them anew - accepting the fact that you may not be able to 'reach' the person they once were becomes easier. Former Alzheimer's caregiver Ellen Woodward Potts states, "The key to coming to terms with this loss is to realise that the human being you have known and loved is still there, but their persona has been masked by Alzheimer's."

Expect the unexpected.


It is important to be realistic in your expectations for yourself and your loved one. Make sure the goals you set are realistic, and don't get wound up if they are not met. For example, if an activity your partner used to love now causes a negative response then accept this and try something different. Remember, it is the progression of the disease that is causing their behaviour.

Learn to let things go.


Learning to let things go when your partner suffers from dementia is one of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of the disease, but it is a crucial one. Their mood swings, personality changes and memory loss will be caused by the progression of plaque build-up in their brain, so make sure you are not arguing with them over a forgotten memory or the way they are behaving as it will only upset the pair of you. Be willing to take the high ground and let it go.

Listen to your own limitations.


Those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease may require a range of home care, from specialist domiciliary care to palliative care. This is a huge responsibility for professional caregivers, let alone family members who also act as caregivers. Due to the complex needs and characteristics of dementia, the disease costs the UK over £26 billion per year, and there are currently over 670,000 carers in the UK. There is nothing wrong with asking for help or additional support when you feel overwhelmed.

Make sure you rely on friends and family members if necessary. You're doing everything imaginable - and more - to be there for your partner, and it's important to remember that your support network will be there for you too. Understand your own emotional and physical limitations; it takes a strong person to do all of this alone, but it takes an even stronger person to ask for help when they need it.

Explore methods of communication.


Communication is something that the majority of dementia patients struggle with to one degree or another, but poetry, dance, music, arts and crafts are all good ways to connect with your partner. These methods are especially helpful when your loved one is no longer able to verbally communicate. Remember, a gentle touch on the arm and a kind approach will also show them just how loved they still are.

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK alone, and this number is expected to rise to 1,142,677 by 2025. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but no two people living with dementia are the same. If you would like advice on how to care for a family member with dementia, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Flu Virus

2015 saw the highest increase of deaths in a single year since 2003. There were 529,613 registered fatalities, and 28,189 of those were due to influenza (also known as the flu). 24,201 flu deaths occurred in patients aged 75 and over. The flu is a highly contagious virus, passed through airborne particles and droplets, which then affects the respiratory system. Flu season runs from October to March, and what makes the virus so dangerous is the fact that the flu virus is a variable that changes yearly. No single vaccination can protect you from all the strains. The worst flu epidemic in history took place in 1918, claiming the lives of 40-50 million people, which is over half of the UK’s present-day population.

What’s even more worrying is in 2015 the fatality rate for dementia patients who had received ineffective flu jabs increased. A Medscope study revealed that those with dementia are twice as likely to die from flu. Those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may require live-in care and specialist care services specific to their illness and are more susceptible to certain illnesses, therefore creating a cause for concern. Here are five things to take into consideration for dementia patients during flu season:

1. Their immune systems are weakened


Alzheimer’s disease is caused by plaques of protein (known as amyloid) building up in the brain, resulting in a loss of connection between the nerve cells of the brain which in turn kills the brain cells. The creation of the plaque is triggered by the immune system, and due to the imbalance of chemicals and lack of receptor in the brain, the immune system is cannot effectively work to its full potential. This means that those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are more susceptible to smaller illnesses that a stronger immune system can fight off, as the receptors that help their immune system may be damaged or dead. 

2. They run a higher risk of complications


Due to the weakened immune system of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, they are at higher risk of the flu turning into more severe illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis which can be fatal. The flu can cause further behavioural issues in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and therefore require more complex care to help them overcome their illness. 

3. They're more susceptible if access to care is limited


It is common knowledge that Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients require more specialist care, albeit home care, live in care services or domiciliary care. Something as simple as showering, washing hands and eating a healthy and balanced diet can help prevent the flu, which is why it is so important that they have access to the right care. If patients are not living in specially equipped care homes or sanitised homes that do not have easy-to-clean ergonomic surfaces, they will be more susceptible to viruses. They may forget to treat the early symptoms of the flu and lose track of the medication that should be taken.

4. The flu vaccination is the most effective preventative


As no strand of the flu is ever the same, there is not one single vaccination that can prevent you from getting the flu. Studies have shown that the vaccination is 50-60% more likely to prevent flu however, there is still a chance of contracting the flu. That being said, the flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent contracting the flu, and if it doesn’t interfere with the patient’s medication or put the in a life threatening situation, it should be considered.

5. There are other preventative measures


Although there is no solid way of stopping Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients from contracting the flu, there are ways it can be prevented. Washing your hands, regularly changing your clothes and sanitising and cleaning everything will help to stop germs and bacteria spreading, therefore reducing the risk of flu. 

If you suspect that a loved one of family member is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, or you are looking for home care 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. 
hospital to home care

Being a carer is a selfless yet hugely rewarding role, and it certainly takes a special person to fill it.

People require care for all kinds of reasons, from live-in assistance to a little extra help in some aspects of their daily lives. At Sova, our carers provide flexible care and assisted living to those in need across the Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford areas. Enabling them to better fulfil their daily routines and to live their lives how they would like to.

The role of a care assistant in the UK has changed over the past decade. People are now living longer, and are accustomed to a better quality of life. While the demand for carers increases, the various types of care offered have also expanded, ranging from hospital-to-home care that is designed to smooth the transition between hospital care and home life through to live-in care, which is a 24-hour service for those in need of more constant assistance. Despite such variation between positions, the core requirements of a care assistant apply to each situation.

What skills do you need to be a care assistant?

  • Empathy. Many people who require assisted care, particularly in the early stages, can find themselves feeling unsettled. Many are dealing with life-changing symptoms that will inevitably have an effect on their thoughts and feelings. Being empathetic in difficult times is an essential skill that will strengthen the relationship between carer and patient, making the relationship work for everybody involved.

  • Patience. Caring is about helping others, meaning that a level of mutual understanding is needed for everyone to be content. When caring for somebody, a great deal of communication and appreciation is required in order to help accurately meet their needs.

  • Strength. Alongside the mentally challenging aspect of being a carer, there can be a physically challenging side. Helping people to go about their daily lives will often include fetching, lifting and rearranging; all of which can be physically demanding.

  • Sense of humour. As with many positions, a sense of humour helps. Being a carer brings you in contact with people every day. With those people very often experiencing low times in their lives, it is great to be able to add some light relief where appropriate.

How to apply to become a care assistant

Whether you are looking to enter the healthcare industry, or are already a healthcare professional, Sova Healthcare can provide you with all of the training and support that you need - if you know you have what it takes to become a carer, we want you to join our team!

We are constantly looking out for hard-working, compassionate care professionals. To find out how you can apply to work with us, visit our careers page.

Being a carer is no easy feat, but for those up to the job, it’s second to none.
It is estimated that there are currently more than 850,000 people in Britain living with dementia, and that this number will reach 1 million by 2025. Dementia is a problem that's not going away any time soon. This is why we strive to continue finding the best ways to live with dementia.


How to cope with memory problems


People diagnosed with early stages of dementia and those who are yet to be diagnosed will start to experience problems with their memory and start becoming more forgetful. There are a number of methods that can help train and strengthen your memory to help you cope with these problems.

Memory Aids 


One tactic is to use memory aids. This could be a device like your mobile phone or a digital organiser, something where you can set reminders for yourself. This could be big events like doctor’s appointment or simple everyday tasks, like reminders to take medication. 

Ideally, it would be something that is synchronised to a similar device of a caregiver or carer who can add events and notes for you.

Memory Games & Strategies 


Dementia can affect your memory in unpredictable and unexpected ways. At earlier stages, it could target small specific events and memories that sufferers would struggle to remember without prompting. There are a number of small memory games and strategies that can help you. 

A common method is rhyming or associating that particular memory or piece of information with something else. When you struggle to remember that specific memory, think of that associated object or word to help prompt yourself. 

Keep a Diary 


Simply keeping a diary of your thoughts and plans can help. It helps you keep track of past events, what has happened or why something is different at home, in order reassure you. 

Keep Active


As simple as this might seem, keeping active can help keep your memory and alert as well as helping keep your spirits high.

How to remain independent


Naturally, people would prefer to remain living in their own homes and remain independent rather than being taken into care. Just because you have dementia, this does not mean that is no longer possible. 

Home Care


One way of helping you remain at home and independent is having home care services. This is where a nurse or carer makes visits to your home, helping you with your medication, treatment and day to day household chores as well as checking that you’re well. Due to the prominence of Dementia, specialised services are now become more available.

How to manage your finances


An important aspect of your life that needs to be looked after if you want to remain independent is your financial affairs. 

Direct Debits


It is advised that you set up your bills to be paid automatically by direct debit, so you don’t miss your payments and have your utilities cut off. Especially during the winter, the last thing you’d want is to have your heating cut off. 

Appointeeship Services


An appointeeship is where a third party person is brought in to help you manage your financial affairs. They would make sure your bills are paid, help you with budgeting and, if you’re on benefits, ensure you’re still receiving them. This service can help you organise your affairs to prevent any financial issues.

Dementia support groups & sharing


When you’ve recently been diagnosed with dementia, you will instantly feel very alone but you’re not and should not shut yourself away. 

There are a number of support groups across the country which meet up regularly and share with each other, this is important. Getting out, meeting people and sharing your experiences can significantly help you when living with dementia. This keeps you active and reassures you that you’re not alone. Depression and mood swings can affect people with dementia, and one of the causes for this is isolation. The best thing about these support groups is that they will not turn you away. 

If you’re interested to learn how Sova Healthcare can help you remain independent and help you through dementia, 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.