Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dementia and Depression

I have heard it is said, that the numbers of people going to the Samaritans these days with dementia related illnesses is on the rise. I was in one way surprised by this, until I looked at the  possible reasons




Diagnosis of dementia is not something that anyone wants, because its like being diagnosed with inoperable cancer, its an illness with no known cure.




When you are given this diagnosis you may well find that you are not given any support or help, and therefore you may well become desperate. Many have said that the diagnosis of dementia is like a death knell, and many carers etc, start grieving from then onwards.




This may also be the case for anyone who does not have family support, or indeed good friends around them.




But hidden inside this illness is depression, something that many consultants do not mention, or if they do they imply, that you are simply depressed and do not have dementia.




When I was diagnosed I was told I was simply stressed, then after 10 weeks that changed to depression, something my wife and I knew was wrong, so my wife demanded a second opinion from a consultant and the rest is history
I was enjoying my job, I just kept forgetting to do things and forgot peoples names which was upsetting




I got a lot of support from my consultant and was then told to go to our local Alzheimer's Society branch office were we would get more support and help to see us through.




This is something we never hear about these days, because many of these local offices and support services have been closed down, so in many cases people are left to find their own support.




There are also those who perhaps do not accept that they have the illness in the first place, and this is hard to understand, because if you cannot accept the diagnosis you will never be able to move on and get on with life. Sometimes its the family's who refuse to accept the diagnosis and that puts extra pressure on those who have the illness, or there are family rows about how to deal with the person and in many cases the person with the illness starts to feel worthless and useless


There are many who lose control of their lives and feel useless or worthless, because like me they may well have lost their jobs through the illness. I can understand people feeling like this because you cannot get to grips with losing your role in life. 




However the depression in dementia, it seems is caused because we are losing control over our lives, and rather than trying to move away from the things which are difficult we may keep fighting.




My consultant told me at the start, that things would become difficult, and some of the things I have done for years may well become impossible to do, simply because the brain has forgotten how to do these jobs.




This  consultant said, if you cannot do something one day, then leave and try on another day.


If it fails again on the second go, leave it until another day




If it fails on the third attempt, leave well alone and try to move on, because by trying to do the impossible, you will only get very stressed and upset and make yourself worse.




This advice always stayed with me, and although I still get upset when things go wrong, I know that I have to move on.




So where do we go from here. I do feel that as I said before, we need more dementia groups in every locality, where people can go for advice and support, we cannot rely on the internet, even if you can use a computer in the first place. Face to face advice and support is always the best.


 If you have local groups, you become friendly with people and discuss your problems, with others, even though your problems may be different to someone else,  simply because there are so many variations of dementia, and no two people have the same symptoms and problems




If you get into a period when you feel depressed try to speak to someone, get it off your chest, do not sit and stew on it because that will only make it worse

 But I guess after all of this it comes down to getting a formal diagnosis in the first place, followed by good support from the Consultant, followed by support from family and friends to help us steer clear of depression if possible.


I do feel that consultants and doctors should be more aware of depression in dementia and should explain it to patients after or during the diagnosis   


However never forget that there are people out there who you can speak to for support, people like the Samaritans, all volunteers, and they will try to support you through the rough times.
 

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