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Television remains a great way for people to learn about things going on in the world. The right documentary film or series can have a lasting impact on viewers. With the likes of David Attenborough and Louis Theroux regularly presenting popular documentaries and pulling in viewers, it can be a successful medium for shining a light on topics that the public aren’t as knowledgeable about. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are roughly 46.8 million people living with dementia - over 850,000 alone in the UK - which makes it a topic of interest for TV and films.

During May and June, two documentaries looked into the world of dementia in two different ways. Both with the aim of raising the profile of the disease and the people living with it. Sova Healthcare looks at both documentaries to see how successful they are.

Our Dementia Choir With Vicky McClure

Bafta award-winning actress of Line of Duty fame, Vicky McClure, fronted a two-part documentary series which focused on the importance of music and singing for people living with dementia. The show sees McClure work with specialists from medicine, music therapy and performance to help form a choir who will perform in front of an audience.

During the series, scientists combined pioneering techniques with the latest scanning technology to show how music stimulates a brain limited by dementia. The programme aimed to bring together a choir for a performance just three months later.

What was the inspiration for the show?

McClure lost her grandmother to dementia in 2015. During the time she cared for her, McClure became involved with the Alzheimer’s Society where she discovered how music and singing had a positive effect on dementia patients.

Studies have also shown the benefits of music therapy on dementia patients, including Cochrane who found that it improved symptoms of depression and behavioural problems.

Who are the people involved?

The show got twenty people together from McClure’s hometown in the Nottingham area, who all live with dementia. Included in the choir was Betty, 82, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years before. Despite her confused and absent-minded nature, she has retained her singing voice. There’s also Chris, 67, who has fronto-temporal dementia which affects the areas of the brain that control behaviour, personality and language. As the disease continues to take hold, he is becoming more outspoken and badly behaved. Couple Julie and Mick, both have early onset dementia at the ages of 50 and 51, respectively. The youngest of the choir at 31 is Daniel who has a rare genetic form of dementia that resulted in the death of his father at the age of 36. Tragically for Daniel, he’s not expected to reach the same age as his father.

General Reception

The reception to the show was positive. The Guardian in their review of the show reflected how McClure was empathetic while interviewing members of the choir and the rest of the show took the same approach. The dignity of everyone involved remains intact, and it also highlights the true nature of the disease and the harsh reality of dementia.

The show also led to other dementia choirs gaining spotlight in local publications and one GP even called for doctors to prescribe singing over drugs because of the potential health and social benefits.

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes

The Channel 4 documentary, The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes, first aired on Channel 4 on Wednesday 12th June and explored people with dementia and their working lives. According to iNews, four out of five people in the UK lose their jobs, independence and sometimes their home, when diagnosed with this terminal disease. The documentary, created in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Society UK, set out to challenge this issue to help volunteers rediscover who they used to be.

The producers set 14 volunteers the task of becoming restaurant staff to make viewers think again about the disease. The show followed the journey of the volunteers as they’re put to work and showed many poignant and feel-good moments.

Channel 4’s Head of Features and Formats, Sarah Lazenby, said: “A dementia diagnosis doesn’t, and shouldn’t mean the end of a career. This poignant and timely project aims to open the eyes of employers to the importance of keeping those who live with dementia in work by boosting their confidence and independence.”

Who is in the show?

Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton led a group of volunteers who all have various types of dementia.

  • 23-year-old Jordan Adams who tested positive for Pick’s disease
  • Avril Staunton, 63, a former gynecologist and obstetrician can no longer remember how old she is
  • Legal representative Jacqui Tunnicliff, 61, who had to give up work after dementia damaged her memory
  • Shelley Sheppard, 45, from Nottinghamshire was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s aged 43.
  • Lorayne Burgess, 52, from Kent, who has frontotemporal dementia
  • Former mortgage adviser Sandie Gibbons, 53, from Weston-super-Mare
  • Former Formula 1 mechanic Roger Postance, 64, from Wolverhampton
  • 53-year-old Peter Berry, who owned a saw milling company in Suffolk
  • 62-year-old Sue Strachan, from Herefordshire, who has vascular dementia
  • Former nurse Joy Watson, 60, from Manchester, who has Alzheimer’s
  • Pete Trapani, 67, of Weston-super-Mare who used to be an engineer
  • Sean Blackmore, of Gloucester, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease for five years since he turned 46
  • Steve Vlad, 65, from Bristol, was diagnosed with frontal-temporal dementia and is a former plumber
  • Lesley Morris, 55, of Newport was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017

What was the inspiration for the show?

A Tokyo pop-up restaurant was created in 2017 with the same premise but the show’s producers decided to supersize the experiment to a fully sized restaurant. The aim of the project is to change the way the public views dementia.

The producers invited a selection of celebrity diners alongside members of the public over a five-week period to test the new staff. The volunteers learned the tricks of the trade for the month before to prepare them for working in a high pressure environment.

General Reception

The reception to the first episode was positive, with many viewers feeling heartbroken on seeing how dementia affected the participant’s ability to complete the work. Tweets compiled by the Daily Mail showed how viewers were shocked that people as young as 23 were struggling with the disease. While some questioned whether it was safe to give dementia patients access to knives and raw meat, the general response was pleased to see the topic being explored, and expressed how they thought people living with dementia shouldn’t be left behind by society. The Huffington Post also echoed that sentiment saying “more needs to be done” for people with dementia.

What's Next for TV and Dementia?

With 1 million people expected to be living with dementia by 2025, it’s vital that the public has a better understanding of the disease. If dementia in its various forms are shown on TV in a dignified way that raises awareness, it’s hoped that it can motivate people to engage as the long search for a cure continues. However, the increased exposure of vulnerable people must be effectively managed.

Sally Copely of the Alzheimer’s Society explained how consent was obtained during the making of Our Dementia Choir:

“We had the ongoing challenge of consent. We had a family sitting in during a meeting with a psychologist, and then every single morning we asked for the volunteer’s consent on camera with the same three questions: ‘Why are you here? What are we filming? Are you happy to be filmed?’

“As long as they could answer those consistently, and the family was happy, we were happy. We then showed it to the contributors and their families before transmission to make sure everyone was fine with how they were represented.”

Both shows had good intention goals that were clear. The UK must invest in people living with dementia, not leave them behind and people must be able to talk about the disease. While it may be frightening to those going through it, a better general understanding can only bring positive results in the future.

For information on Sova Healthcare’s Alzheimer’s care and Dementia care services, please get in touch to see how we can help.

People living with dementia can sometimes exhibit behaviour in ways that can be aggressive. Whether that’s physical or verbal, the actions of the person can be distressing for them and those around them. The nature of the behaviour can lead to friends and family agreeing that their loved one would benefit from professional support such as home care or dementia care.

 

What is Aggressive Behaviour?

Aggressive behaviour includes:

  • Verbal - screaming, shouting, swearing and making threats.
  • Physical - biting, hitting, hair-pulling, pinching, scratching.

Dementia and anger outbursts can be linked to how the person behaves before the illness developed, however, it has been known for people to develop aggressive behaviour who have never shown such behaviour before in their life.

 

What Causes Aggressive Behaviour?

Dementia causes pain for the person going through it which brings a need from them to feel comfortable. They also want to talk to people around them, feel engaged and feel well. However, dementia can make it difficult for people to understand their needs and their way of expressing what they want is through violent actions. There are various needs they may have for their aggressive behaviour.

Physical Needs

  • They might be in pain, unwell or discomfort.
  • Side effects of medication - drowsiness can lead to communication issues.
  • The environment is too busy, overwhelming or too hot or cold.
  • Poor eyesight or hearing causes misconceptions.
  • Hallucinations lead to aggressive behaviour.
  • Dementia affects judgement and self control.
  • Lack of understanding for their behaviour.

Social Needs

  • The person may feel lonely and not included or valued.
  • They might be bored with not much to do.
  • The person might not like their care professional.
  • They could be hiding their condition from others.

Psychological Needs

  • A feeling of their needs and rights not being respected or are being ignored. This can be down to their own misperceptions, memory difficulties or problems.
  • A feeling of being stopped from doing what they want.
  • Frustration with being unable to complete simple tasks.
  • Depression or other mental health issues.
  • Misunderstanding of why they have a person caring for them. They could feel that the carer is invading their space.
  • Finding it difficult to accept that carers are helping them with intimate tasks such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet.
  • Feeling threatened by a strange or unfamiliar environment.
  • Lack of understanding of the world around them.

 

How to Deal with Aggressive Dementia Patients

It's difficult to respond to aggressive behaviour, but you must take time to think of your loved one and why they might be behaving aggressively. It’s likely they aren’t doing it on purpose and reasoning with them is unlikely to lead them to change their behaviour.

Here are tips for things you can do and avoid doing while the person is behaving aggressively.

During the Aggressive Episode

  • Don’t react straight away. Take a breath and give the person space and time. Leave the room until you’re both feeling calmer.
  • Stay calm. Meeting aggression with an angry response will make the situation worse.
  • Ensure your safety. Never tolerate violence against yourself.
  • If they are being physically violent, try not to show any fear, alarm or anxiety. Walk away from the situation and call for help.
  • Reassure the person and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Don’t take aggressive behaviour personally as this is likely their way of trying to communicate with you of an issue they may have. Listen to what they have to say and mirror their body language if possible.
  • Keep eye contact with the person to explain why you are there. Encourage the person to openly communicate with you.
  • Are you supporting the person with a task? Does it need to be completed now? It's good to stop, give them space and try again later when you’re both calmer.

After the Episode

It’s easy to blame the person for their aggressive behaviour but they are unlikely to have done it on purpose. If you treat your loved one differently, they will not understand why you are. Carry on as normal and be reassuring to them. You must remember to focus on the person and not their behaviour - they’re still the person you care about.

If you’re struggling with the emotions of dealing with an aggressive episode, talk to friends, family or even your GP or counsellor. The professional carers at Sova Healthcare are also happy to discuss your feelings with them if need be. Without this support network, you can focus on the behaviour and not the person you care for.

 

Managing Aggressive Behaviour

Aggressive behaviour can be prevented in those suffering with dementia by following a few steps:

  1. Identify the problem - Consider all factors for their behaviour from the environment to the situation you’re in.

  2. Analyse the situation - Where and when does the problem happen? Is it usual for them to act this way? Are visitors involved?

  3. Focus on how the person feels when behaving aggressively - Are they unwell, uncomfortable or in pain? Tired? Delusional? Bored?

  4. Identify what the person is reacting to - Are they reacting to a bad incident? Are they scared of something? Has something changed? Has a memory returned to them?

  5. Have a behaviour management strategy - Develop a range of techniques that will keep the behaviour down to a minimum. Try different things to work out what is best for you and them.

Aggressive behaviour shown by a loved one going through dementia is difficult to contend with emotionally, but with the right strategies and support around you it will be okay. Sova Healthcare can provide a fresh approach to home care services. With various options available for your loved one - including domiciliary care - we can help with taking care of your loved one with specialist dementia care services. For more information, get in touch with us today.

dementia centre to create home tech

Advancements in technology have various benefits in everyday life. From wi-fi, smartphones and AI assistants, our lives are becoming more linked to these devices. As the smart home continues to develop, one centre is soon to open which is dedicated to creating technological solutions to support dementia patients and their home carers.

What Is The Aim of the Centre?

Based at the Imperial College London White City campus, the UK Dementia Research Institute’s Care Research and Technology Centre is part of a multi-partner collaboration. The centre is expected to cost £20m to run with funding coming from the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. Their aim is to develop a system that can be used by dementia sufferers which combine the use of AI, robotics, sensors, sleep trackers and infection testing. It will be designed so the technology doesn’t interfere with the patient’s everyday life, creating homes that are friendly to dementia sufferers.

Professor David Sharp, a neurologist at Imperial College London who is head of the centre said, “The vision for this centre is to use patient-centred technology to help people affected by dementia to live better and for longer in their own homes.”

technological solutions for dementia patients

How Will an EEG Help Dementia Patients?

The EEG (electroencephalogram) device they want to create will fit in the ear of a patient which will then monitor brain activity fluctuations with radar technology used to track movements within the home. The sensors will identify any changes in the behaviour of patients which have the potential to put them in hospital. Changes include a new walking pattern that might lead to a fall or increases in body temperature which is likely to suggest an infection.

EEG device for dementia patients

The results from the monitoring can then be sent to doctors or nurses early if potential problems are arising. The monitoring can also give a holistic overview of a patient, as the data can help better understand the effect of drug treatments and patient wellbeing.

The technology will also be able to track sleep quality of the patient, which is hard to track in the home. Sleep disturbance is a huge problem for dementia patients. The centre wants to create motion sensors that can be fitted to beds to track sleep. The information gathered might improve the quality of sleep for patients.

The technology developed will be assessed by people living with dementia and their carers. This will ensure the technology is both practical and needed by patients.

Why Are Technological Solutions Needed?

With over 700,000 dementia sufferers in the UK and 850,000 expected by 2021, solutions need to be found to reduce the number of dementia patients going into hospitals and help improve their quality of life.

Sharp commented on dementia patients and hospital beds saying, “Latest figures suggest one in four hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia – and 20 percent of these admissions are due to preventable causes such as falls, dehydration and infections. The new technologies we develop will improve our ability to support people in their homes. They will allow us to intervene at an early stage, to prevent the crises that so often lead to hospital stays or a move to a care home. What’s more, we’ll be able to improve our understanding of dementia onset and progression.”

For dementia patients, a trip to or stay in a hospital can be a very stressful experience. If a doctor can monitor a patient remotely successfully, this will reduce the need for those trips to take place. A doctor can then react to anything concerning if they need to.

How Much Will The Technology Cost Patients?

While the centre hopes various off-the-shelf technologies will be available for free through the NHS, some sensors could cost as little as £10.

When Will The Centre Be Open?

The centre will open on 1st June 2019. However, scientists already involved in the project have developed storage technologies that are safe robust, so all personal data of patients is secure.

Any technology that can support dementia patients and their carers is welcomed. It will be interesting to see how the technology develops once the centre has opened. The importance of dementia care services within the home remains, an extra layer of technological support can truly create a ‘Healthy Home’.

For more information on our dementia care services, please contact Sova Healthcare today.

Elderly parent refusing help

It’s hard to take when an elderly parent refuses help. You love your parents very much and you would do anything for them. For many years they look after you, even when you move out from the family home. No matter where you are in the world, your parents will always look out for you but there comes a time when the situation turns.

As your parents get older and reach the elderly stage of their life, it can become apparent they need support with their everyday lives. While it might be obvious to you, it can sometimes not appear so for them. Your elderly Mum or Dad may resist having in-home carers as they don’t want to be waited on. However, if the signs are there you know something must be done.

Sova Healthcare are specialists in home care services and understand the difficulties in having this conversation. We’ve put together a list of advice for approaching your elderly parents when they refuse help they need.

1. Start Early

It is imperative you start a conversation with your parent early before any potential health issue could start. The talk doesn’t even have to directly mention “carers” or “care at home”, as these words are likely to trigger a reaction that ends the conversation. Ask questions such as “Where do you see yourself as you get older?” or “Have you thought about getting a housekeeper to help around the house?”. These lead in questions without the mentions of care would help strike a conversation that helps both parties early on. This can also help you understand why they refuse to consider support from health care services.

2. Getting Older Is Scary So Be Understanding

In Donna Cohen’s book, “The Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders” she advised that understanding the fear of getting old is better than insisting they get help for themselves. Most elderly people know about the issues that they are potentially suffering from. However, anger could spring from believing their children aren’t capable of understanding their issues emotionally and physically. That connection is vital in having those difficult conversations about considering care options.

3. Stand By Your Parents No Matter What

When you reach a certain age, you are used to being okay on your own because it is what we must do as adults. However, it’s difficult to accept when this situation changes. If the situation is addressed there is a possibility of your ageing parent using a coping mechanism, such as shouting or storming out of rooms, like you would have done as a child to them. This can cause a lot of stress, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on getting the care that is best for them. Help them out where you can and let them enjoy that support from you before tackling domiciliary care or any other type of home care service.

4. Give Your Parents Option

Putting restrictions on your parents future will not help stop their refusal of help. Assisted living or in-home care can seem like their freedom is being taken from them. A feeling of having no independence or options to choose themselves will make them continue to refuse support. By giving your Mum or Dad options, it makes them realise that their opinion is still valued and they are still an independent person. If you are looking to set up an appointment for them, ask for their preferred date and time. They likely have hobbies which they enjoy and don’t want to feel restricted in continuing them. Explain that their carer is a companion not someone there to tell them what to do.

5. Create a List of Issues and Priorities

The need for caregiving and assisted living for an individual is a two-way thing, so problems can be experienced by both sides. Reduce potential problems by listing priorities. Will your parent need weekly or monthly appointments at the doctors? Should you hire someone to help around the house? If your parent suffers from dementia, they cannot attend to their household chores any more, so hiring a housekeeper would be beneficial.

6. Take Your Time

You love your parents and you want the best for them, but you can’t rush into situations. If you feel they need to go to a doctor but are worried about taking them, could you ask the doctor to do a home visit? This way, it can feel like a less formal assessment which could scare your Mum or Dad into refusing to see them.

7. Seek Expert Advice

The signs around the home and in your parent’s behaviour might be obvious to you that something is wrong, but sometimes it takes professional advice to convince them of this. Talking to doctors or even social workers can help convince an elderly person of their situation. They could detail the potential problems without help from a carer and provide questions your parent might have about possible treatments.

Our expert team offer health screenings in Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford can provide a full health check alongside our expert advice. Our assessment can tell your elderly parents if they are at risk of having a stroke, developing diabetes or other health ailments. We can also provide a screening in their home if your Mum or Dad prefer. Our assessment can then inform you on whether health care arrangements need to be made.

Contact us today about our home care and specialist care services or download our brochure.

Elderly people in hot weather

We’re in the middle of a heatwave and the UK is enjoying some of the hottest weather we’ve ever experienced. From the sunbathing to the barbecues, this beautiful weather offers a lot of positives, but not everyone enjoys it. Whilst the hot weather is putting the majority of the UK in a great mood, the rising temperatures can lead to a long list of health problems, especially for the elderly.

At Sova Healthcare, we’re a leading provider of private home care and domiciliary care services across the the UK. To support family members and carers, we’ve put a list of tips together to help you care for the elderly during a heatwave, so that they can stay safe and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Symptoms of Overheating

In order to keep your loved ones safe and comfortable during a heatwave and the summer season, it is crucial that you’re able to recognise the symptoms of overheating, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Symptoms of overheating include:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Behavioural changes
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling dizzy and weak
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Swollen ankles
  • Thirstiness
  • Dark urine

What is heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

Heat exhaustion is triggered when your core temperature reaches at least least 104°F. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion, as it can lead to shock, organ failure and even brain damage. In extreme cases, heatstroke leads to death.

What causes heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

When your body cannot cool itself and its core temperature is raised, it can lead to heat-related illnesses. In order to stay cool when the climate is hot, your body dissolves sweat. However, during hotter, humid days, the increased moisture in the air slows the sweating process , making it difficult for your body to cool down. This, in turn causes your temperature to rise even further, which leads you to become ill. Dementia patients are more at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke during the hotter months, as they may forget to wear lighter clothing, or stay hydrated - which poses a huge risk.

How to keep your loved ones cool

Staying cool during the summer months requires much more than just drinking iced water. In order to keep your elderly relatives, friends and patients safe, you should:

1. Give them time to refresh

Having regular cool showers, baths and washes is a great way to lower body temperature, and is a great way to keep someone feeling refreshed. People with dementia may forget to wash or shower - you just need to be patient and suggest that they cool down with a quick wash or cold shower. If you’re planning on going out on a day trip or excursion, you should take some damp washcloths in a cool bag with an ice pack. This is a great way of quickly cooling someone. If your relative is suffering from dementia and becomes confused or irritated by you giving them cool washcloths, be patient and explain what you are doing. Find out more about how to communicate with a person with dementia.

2. Take a rest

Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is always encouraged - even more so for patients with dementia and other diseases. However, during the hotter months you should keep strenuous physical activity to a minimum, as it can cause excess sweating, which leads to dehydration, and will hinder the body’s ability to stay cool.

3. Eat cool foods

To ensure your elderly relative, patient or friend is consuming enough water, you should give them foods with high water content - the benefit of this is that it will also help them stay cool.

Salad foods such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce and celery, vegetables such as cauliflower and peppers; and fruits like strawberries, grapefruit and melon are ideal! Depending on what stage of dementia (find out more about the seven stages of dementia) your loved one or patient is at, you should consider whether they can safely swallow these foods.

4. Wear lighter clothing

Cotton clothing and looser tops, dresses and shorts are a simple way to help maintain a safe core temperature. Avoid tight clothing and darker colours, as they tend to absorb heat.

5. Don't go outside during peak hours

The day is hottest between 11am and 3pm. During this time, you should stay somewhere cool, and only go outside during the cooler times of the day– before 11am and after 3pm.

6. Close blinds and curtains

Closing blinds and curtains during the day is a great way to stop the sun shining inside a room and heating it up!

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.