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Dementia Communication

Dementia is a disease that is affecting more and more people in the UK. With over 850,000 people suffering from some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and with that figure expected to rise to above 1 million by 2025, developing ways to communicate with those who have the degenerative brain disease is starting to become more vital than ever before.

Why is communicating with a person with Dementia difficult?

Communicating with those with dementia is very difficult as their brain is struggling to communicate within itself, due to the nerve cells that transmit messages being damaged. This is because Dementia is a degenerative brain disorder, and the cell damage in the brain makes it much harder for dementia sufferers to take in new information and formulate a response like a fully functioning brain can.

Memory loss is also prevalent, meaning they may not have a strong recollection of who you are, thus making communication very difficult. Alongside this, due to the nerve cell damage within the brain, you may find that their behaviour has changed - they may behave similarly to a child.

With Dementia affecting the everyday life of the patient and their loved ones, some people need some help in being able to communicate in what can be a difficult situation. Sova Healthcare has compiled a list of ten tips for communicating with a person with dementia.

1. Create a positive atmosphere

Your body language is very important when engaging with someone with dementia. It speaks volumes more than your own words. Use facial expressions, consider the tone of your voice and gentle, reassuring physical touching of the arm will help communicate your message and show your love and affection for them.

2. Keep the person’s attention

Keeping the focus of the person with dementia is vital to good communication, but as the disease progresses this can become increasingly challenging. Keep the TV or radio off, close the curtains, shut the door or move to a place that is free from any distraction. Make sure you have their attention, address them by their name whilst making sure they know who you are, and maintain eye contact with them.

3. Clearly state your messages

Keep your words and sentences as simple as possible. Speak slowly and with a reassuring tone. Keep your voice at a lower pitch and refrain from making it higher or louder, as you don’t want to startle them. If they do not understand your message the first time, use the same wording to repeat your message or question. If they are still struggling, wait for a period of time before saying it again. But remember, try not to lose patience with them, as this is not their fault.

4. Keep your questions simple

Those in the later stages of dementia often get easily confused, so you need to keep your questions as simple as possible. If you need a definitive answer, try not to ask open ended questions - yes or no questions work best. If you do need to ask a question that requires a choice, make the choices clear. Transparent options can help clarify exactly what you are asking.

5. Keep your ears, eyes and heart open

Your loved one may take time to reply so you need to be patient with them. Prompt them if they are struggling to answer a question. Do not show any impatience with your body language - be understanding. Don’t be surprised if they become impatient or frustrated - this is a challenging time for them. Try and be as patient and as understanding as possible.

6. Break everything down into manageable chunks and steps

Keeping tasks manageable for someone with dementia is vital - it isn’t easy for someone with dementia to be able to complete everyday tasks we often take for granted, without support from live-in carers, family members of visiting carers. This is because the brain is struggling to send messages, impacting their memory loss which hampers their recollection of each step. Encourage them, gently remind them of the steps and assist them with anything they cannot complete on their own. Make the steps visual so they picture exactly what you want them to do.

7. Distract and Redirect when Upset

It can be easy for a dementia sufferer to get upset or agitated as they struggle to complete what we often regard as a simplistic and mundane task. Alongside this, there is also the possibility that something happening around them (such as a change in furniture) that has impacted their mood. The best way to help a dementia patient who has become upset is by trying to change the subject, or removing them from environment that is making them upset. A great distraction could be to go for a walk. Be understanding with them, as this will reassure them, and remind them that you have their best interests at heart.

8. Be affectionate and reassuring

A common symptom of dementia is confusion and anxiety - as the dementia progresses, patients often struggle to differentiate between what is and isn’t real. This is where you will need to be affectionate and reassuring. Stay focused on the feelings they are trying to express and don’t convince them that everything they see is incorrect. At times, holding hands, hugging and touching can get some to respond.

9. Reminisce

A great way to communicate with a person with dementia is to take a trip down memory lane. They might not be able to remember something that happened 30 minutes ago, but they might clearly recall something from 30 years ago. Ask general questions about the person’s past instead of anything based on short-term memory.

10. Have a sense of humour

People struggling with dementia will usually retain their social skills and will love a good laugh. Just make sure the joke isn’t at their expense.

At Sova Healthcare, we are passionate about providing the best care and advice to you and your relative. If you have any queries regarding our dementia home care services or specialist care services that we provide, please contact us today.

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.

Dementia Research

With technology constantly evolving and our understanding of science ever improving, the research being done into dementia is continually advancing, as doctors and scientists alike work to tackle and overcome dementia once and for all. And with 2018 promising to hold a number of exciting developments into dementia research, we’ve put together some of our predictions for the year, as we explore what we can expect from dementia research within 2018.

The Eradication of Care vs. Cure

Perhaps one of the fiercest debates of dementia research, there’s historically been a reigning debate regarding funding towards both the care and cure of the disease, with people divided as to which should take precedence. However in 2018, we predict that things may start to change, with equal attention and research being given to both sectors. With the Alzheimer’s Society dedicating significant money into researching the improvement of care for all those suffering from dementia, a great step has been taken into equalising the two research points, with equal weight and attention being given to seeking the cure to dementia as well as improving the lives of those suffering.

A Decrease in Data for Dementia

With talks in place regarding the NHS and data sharing, people will soon have the choice to opt out of sharing their medical data, meaning that less statistics and information will be available on dementia within the next year.

A Shift in Dementia Research Focus

Since dementia is caused by the presence of abnormal proteins in the brain, up until now a lot of research focus has been on the two most abundant proteins found in the brain for those suffering from dementia; amyloid and tau. However researchers now think they may have a new lead into uncovering medical development for the disease. Although researchers have long since known that the immune system is affected by dementia, it has generally been considered simply a side effect of the carnal deterioration. However now they believe the immune system may actually play a significant role in activating and causing the disease, meaning that in 2018 we can expect to see a shift in research focus from cranial proteins to the immune system.

A Renewal of 'Challenge on Dementia'

An initiative that was first launched in 2012 by the government, Challenge on Dementia is a programme that focuses on researching and curing the deteriorative cranial disease. Renewed in 2015, the initiative will end in 2020, unless it is once again renewed in the coming Spring. However considering the progress and success that has been made whilst under the initiative, it is likely that Challenge on Dementia will be implemented once more in 2018, allowing funding and research to continue to excel.

The Discovery of Potential Drugs

Thanks to the medical and scientific development made throughout 2017, there is a strong likelihood that we will see an increase in the progressive nature of dementia drugs within 2018. With the Alzheimer's Society dedicating a new programme to drug discovery, a study has shown that a diabetes drug could in fact benefit sufferers of dementia. With the promise of further research being done into this new revolutionary drug, 2018 hopes to be an game changer of a year in regards to dementia research.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, reach out to one of our friendly team today and we’ll work tirelessly to provide you with all the support and care that you need.

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.