Dementia Awareness Week 2018 will take place on Monday 21 May – Sunday 27 May 2018.
We are all more aware that many more people are living with dementia in our society but we may feel that it doesn’t concern us because we may not know anyone who has the condition.
However, there are now many more people who are successfully living independently with a diagnosis and so it is useful for us all to know something about the condition so that we can respond appropriately when we meet people who may be struggling.
There are many types of dementia. Most people will have heard of Alzheimer’s which is where proteins build up in the brain and stop the signals from being accurately transmitted. Vascular dementia is the result of small strokes which damage the brain. Both conditions will get worse with time, but how rapidly can vary between people and condition. Alzheimer’s is a smoother process and vascular can be more stepped. There are many other forms including damage to the brain through excess alcohol consumption.
The changes to the person can also vary but you may see a change in personality, mood swings, confusion and frustration. People may start to avoid social situations as they feel anxious and exhausted. Later symptoms can include reduced hand eye co-ordination, visual disturbance and of course forgetting the immediate information and living in the past. The memory can be imagined as a wobbly book shelf. The most recent memories at the top are the ones that fall off first. The dementia sufferer will start to forget the recent things and as the condition progresses, they can move back to living in a previous age.
You may come across someone experiencing symptoms when you are out. Someone may suddenly become lost or forget what they were in the middle of doing. They may forget how to count money or the system of how to buy something. Visual disturbance can be a problem, for example a mat in a shop doorway may look more like a huge lake that needs to be negotiated. There will be added confusion as to why there is a lake in the middle of the shop doorway!
There is a huge range of publications available that are all worth a read. Ask me, your surgery and the Alzheimer’s society in Langport 01458 251541 for information. There is also a super booklet called “When Grandma came to stay” to help children understand and be prepared.
Look out for local dementia awareness events and press releases for organisations.