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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.

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.