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Winter weather

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

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

Preparing the house

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

Keeping warm

Clothing

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

Central heating

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

Food and drink

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

Going outdoors

Winter shoes and coat

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

Walking aids

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

Alarms

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

Snow

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

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

Alzheimer's

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

What causes Alzheimer's disease?


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


What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?


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

Who is affected by Alzheimer's?


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

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


How much does dementia cost the UK?


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


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


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

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

Dementia Awareness

With Dementia set to be the biggest killer of the 21st century, having an understanding of the disease itself is essential. From the 14th to the 20th of May, Dementia Awareness week will be commencing to raise awareness for the disease which will affect 1 in 6 people in the UK.

What is Dementia?

Contrary to popular belief, Dementia is not actually a disease but instead refers to various brain disorders which affect brain function, causing symptoms such as disorientation and memory issues.

The most common illness which Dementia encompasses is Alzheimer's which accounts for two-thirds of all cases. The early symptoms of Dementia are often hard to diagnose as they can be relatively mild but will often progress to sufferers requiring around-the-clock care.

How to Look After Someone with Dementia

Every single case of Dementia is unique meaning the care given has to be just as unique. Tailoring the care to their specific needs makes sure the most compassionate support is given whilst a sense of independence is maintained to preserve self confidence.

Providing efficient care for someone with Dementia also requires special consideration of both the individual's physical and mental state. Taking regular exercise breaks also means that side effects such as depression and social withdrawal can be avoided. It's all about taking each day as it comes and making the right decisions based upon the individual's needs.

How Does Dementia Awareness Week Help?

Being diagnosed with Dementia is a scary and unsettling experience for most. Research carried out by Dementia UK found that 45% of sufferers thought they would have to immediately stop driving a car, while another 22% feared they would lose their partner or friends.

By dedicating a week to show our support and care for those with Dementia and their carers, we can get closer and closer to finding a cure and preventing the destruction of more lives. Attending local fundraising events is an easy, fun way to show your support and dedicate a few hours towards a great cause.

How Can Sova Healthcare Help You?

Looking after someone with Dementia can be a challenge and can take its toll on your health and wellbeing too. If someone close to you is suffering from Dementia and you'd like some extra support or advice on what to do next, get in touch today.

Signs of dementia

As you may know, dementia is not disease but is actually a collective expression of symptoms which have resulted from damages to the brain. The symptoms and their severity will mostly depend on what is causing the dementia itself and, combined with a person’s overall health, will dictate the speed of deterioration.

1. Difficulty completing everyday tasks


This may be one of the less obvious symptoms of dementia but should be taken seriously nevertheless. Tasks which may have been completed with ease before may take the person longer to finish, or may be left unfinished if there is a sense of frustration. For example, someone might find it more challenging to sort their money out whilst paying for shopping or they may find it difficult to grasp the rules of a new game. As well as everyday tasks, their ability to learn new skills or understand the processes behind a new task may indicate that something is wrong.

2. Changes in mood


Although this one may be hard to notice in yourself, the shift in someone else’s mood is often a strong indicator that they are experiencing changes to their brain. The most common change in mood often manifests itself in depression, or a general sense of low mood which impacts their everyday life. Alongside these changes, there can also be a change in how someone approaches others. Someone who may have been shy and reserved may begin to be more confident and outgoing as a result of their judgment being impaired.

3. Apathy


As well as depression, someone’s general willingness towards tasks and everyday life may be impacted. They may lose interest in hobbies or activities that, before the onset of dementia, they were passionate about and looked forward to. Dementia can deter someone from wanting to leave the house and have fun; instead, they may prefer to stay inside and opt out of social interactions with friends and family.

4. Repetitiveness


When noticing changes in someone, repetitiveness may be one of the most easily recognisable symptoms. Someone may carry out a task such as cooking or making a note of something more than once if they are experiencing cognitive impairments. Repeating questions in conversations after they have been answered is also a common symptom. This can lead to frustration for all involved but can leave the dementia sufferer feeling confused and bewildered.

5. Difficulty adapting to change


In the early stages of dementia, someone noticing these changes in themselves can lead to a sense of panic and fear. All of a sudden, they may not be able to recognise people they once knew or they may lose the ability to navigate routes they were once familiar with. As a result of this, having a routine in place becomes imperative meaning that any slight changes to this cause a fearful and negative reaction. 

If you’re worried that someone you know or care for may be suffering from dementia, there are many ways for you to receive support and guidance. Contact us today to find out more.
Young Onset Dementia

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and around 42,325 young people have been diagnosed with this disease. Those who show symptoms of dementia before the age of 65 are classified as having early-onset dementia. However, symptoms can start to show from as young as 30 years old. Both young-onset dementia and dementia are caused by a buildup of proteins in the brain, that results in a lack of a connection between nerve cells, and a severe loss of brain tissue. These plaques limit the production of chemicals in the brain, which inhibit important messages being transmitted. However, there are a wider range of diseases that trigger early-onset dementia in a younger person and they have a higher probability of having a rarer form of the disease.


Familial Alzheimer's Disease

It is thought that between 7-12% of people with young-onset dementia was inherited from a parent. The inherited form is known as Familial Alzheimer's and is incredibly rare; symptoms usually appear in someone in their 30s to 50s. The earlier the start of the disease, the more likely it is to be genetic. Familial Alzheimer's disease is caused by a mutation of PSEN1 gene (presenilin 1) that boosts the production of amino acids. Instead they produce excess proteins that build up in the brain. However, this form of dementia is incredibly rare - according to the Alzheimer's Society it affects over 500 families worldwide and accounts for 1% of dementia.


Types of Young-Onset Dementia

Young-Onset Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia accounts for 15% of those with young-onset dementia, and is the second most common type in people under the age of 65. Vascular dementia is caused when there are issues with the supply of blood to the brain, and has links to diabetes and heart disease. This type of dementia requires complex care. A genetic and rare form of this disease is known as CADASIL (Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy), and is prevalent in those aged 30-50. It is caused by a mutation in the NOTCH3 gene, which produces an excess proteins that build up in the brain. Patient state that there are 400 families worldwide who are affected.

Early-Onset Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia affects 10-15% of young people with the disease, and is caused by damage to the lobes at the front and/or sides of the brain. This form of the disease affects more younger people than old. The most common age of diagnosis is 45-65.

Young-Onset Dementia with Lewy Bodies

5% of people under the age of 65 with dementia have this type of the disease. It is caused by the build-up of tiny protein deposits known as Lewy bodies in the brain. These deposits are linked to Parkinson's disease; one third of people with Parkinson's develop dementia.

Korsakoff's Syndrome

Korsakoff's Syndrome is a form of dementia associated with alcohol abuse. It affects 10% of young people with dementia, and is caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine). This type of dementia has been known to be halted and reversed.

Rarer Forms of Early-Onset Dementia

20-25% of young people with dementia have a rarer form of this disease. These causes are down to degenerative neurological conditions that cause progressive damage to the nervous system (such as Huntington's disease, corticobasal degeneration and CJD). Some rarer types of dementia progress very rapidly over just a few months.


Caring for Someone with Young-Onset Dementia

Due to the age at which early-onset Alzheimer's starts, it can have a devastating impact on the patient's life. Some people may be working, as well as have a magnitude of responsibilities such as a mortgage and family to take care of at the time of diagnosis. Your parents or children may want to shoulder some responsibility of caring for you, but you shouldn’t ever feel like you are a burden to them. Home care is most effective when the right support is used.

It is important to access the support and services that are out there for you, as well as finding treatment that will work for you. There are dedicated age groups out there for younger people with Alzheimer’s and dementia - it is important to remember that you are not alone. 

You may feel that you do not require any home care services or domiciliary care at the early stage of your diagnosis, but as dementia is a progressive disease it is important to discuss the future live-in care or complex care you may need. Should you have any questions about living with dementia, or any care services do not hesitate to get in touch with Sova Healthcare.