Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Very good Morning at Northumbria University

Today I did the second of three presentations this week, on life with Lewy Bdoy Dementia, and it seemed to go down well.

This was working with graduate nurses, and they seemed genuinely interested and I saw many writing notes.
I was struggling again today because I could not always see my notes, and kept losing my place.

Since starting work with Northumbria University, I have seen a lot of very positive changes in the way hospital staff treat people in general, as well as better treatment for those with dementia

It's not down to me, but people in general, all helping staff at training sessions, from lecturers down to visitors. 

So now it's brilliant to see named nurses and doctors etc, going the extra mile, to put patients at ease when they are being treated or having investigations done in hospitals etc, 

I certainly noticed a difference recently, when I went into North Durham University Hospital for a hip injection. 

All of there staff from the consultant down all seemed to be so friendly and helpful

This now proves that the training of nurses etc, has stepped up a gear, and there is a genuine interest in the patient

However the treatment we are given comes from the Universties training the nurses etc, and from the staff themselves, because in many cases the government are out to cut costs, as are the chief executives running the hospitals

So all of these staff must be congratulated, for all of their hard work in making the National Health Service look and sound better.

I am sure that in the near future people will feel happier going into hospital than they do now. 

Things have improved a lot now, and things could get a lot better in the future all being well.

I would just like to thank all trainees and hospital staff for improving services.

These people are angels 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is high enough, without having an illness like dementia or cancer etc

But when you have an illness like this you get penalised with high costs, something that feels very wrong, it's as if you are penalised just for being ill, through no fault of your own

This also has a knock on effect,when your diagnosis changes as someone said the other day. 

The insurance company start asking why your diagnosis has changed, and I guess that the costs go up again,  because of all off the uncertainty, and that is terrible for those concerned.

At the end of the day, it's not as if we are going to go on a dangerous holiday, or do anything stupid.

So you are penalised for admitting that you have an illnes, and penalised if you don't admit to having the illness.

One holiday we paid just about the same for the holiday each as we did to cover my insurance, something that was staggering at the time.

So we have now got to the stage where we will not go away, because of the insurance costs.

There are some companies in this country who claim to offer people like us with cheaper insurance, but it never works when you look into it. 

I guess that this is another form of stigma towards those with this illness. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Why all of this doubt

NA few days ago I wrote a blog about people who had been diagnosed as having a form of dementia, by a neurologist, and then having the diagnosis changed later by Old Age Psychiatrists.

Since then I have had many messages from people, who have gone through this process, and are now struggling to come to terms with the change of diagnosis.

To me if someone has been diagnosed by a Neurologist, then they are more likely to have been diagnosed correctly.

I am however staggered at the number of Old Age Psychiatrists, who are disagreeing with this diagnosis.  

Surely there is something wrong these days, when someone like a Neurologist who has a thorough training in the brain,  has their ideas over ruled by someone who has not specialised in brain disease.

It also concerns me that this is done without proper care, and very little explanation if any at all.

These people still have the same symptoms and problems, but it sounds by all accounts, as if they were re diagnosed simply because they did not deteriorate as the text books say they should.

By most accounts, they were simply told that they did not have any form of dementia, and should be pleased. To me that is a total insult to those who have been given the diagnosis, and have learnt to change their lives and move on.

If someone disagrees with a diagnosis, surely they should ensure that the patient is then sent back to see a Neurologist, where they can be  given a full reason for the change in the diagnosis.

Not  simply being told, that they do not have the illness and be left to cope with it on their own

Many of these people have been on medication like Exelon, and have tried their best to remain active, so this must explain something.

No one is put on Exelon or any other medication unless they have problems like dementia or Parkinson's in the first place.

One clinical psychologist told me a while ago, that most if this is down to the fact that the patients simply did not sound like text book cases, as they did not deteriorate as fast as they should, and hospitals do not want people on their lists for too long these days.

So is this all down to cutting costs and nothing to do with medicine, I do wonder

Perhaps if there is a clinician out there they may be able to explain this to all those who are struggling with this problem, and no longer know what their illness is any more

Officers trained as Dementia Champions

Officers trained as Dementia Champions

Officers from Bridgwater have been trained to be Dementia Friends Champions. The aim of the scheme is to improve people’s understanding of dementia and its effects.
Inspector Mark Nicholson said “We see the role as an extension of community policing and supporting vulnerable people on our patch. We have joined forces to run ‘Dementia Friends Information Sessions’ for local policing teams and neighbourhood watch groups to help them actively engage with people living with dementia”.
This is the second training day of its kind given to officers within the Somerset. The programme has been embraced by several local policing teams, with more training sessions planned for other areas.
Mark continued; “It’s a great use of resources from an already established community group serving local people. It is an extension of the good work already in the community.
“Being a Dementia Friend is about taking little actions such as to behave patiently with someone showing signs of dementia, spending more time with a relative affected by dementia, fundraising or generally raising awareness. This will help our community to be more dementia friendly and bring people closer together.”
The programme is also being offered externally with organisations such as colleges. If you would like Mark and the team to come and run a Dementia Friends Session within your neighbourhood watch group or organisation, please contact us on 101 and ask to leave a message for Mark Nicholson.

Huge demand for Wearside dementia event

Huge demand for Wearside dementia event

editorial image

ORGANISERS of a conference about important changes to dementia services on Wearside have asked people who plan to attend to register first, after news of the event was met with huge demand.

Dementia Into the Future has been organised by Action on Dementia Sunderland, to discuss the city’s Royal Hospital’s plans for dementia services, as well as changes to the Care Act and how people with the condition will be cared for.

We expect people in the early stages of the condition and their families and friends may wish to attend to find out more about what help is available in the city.

Ernie Thompson, chairman of Action on Dementia Sunderland
Chairman Ernie Thompson said the free event at the Stadium of Light, which takes place next Thursday, was likely to attract a lot of people, after a previous event two years ago saw almost 90 attend.
He said: “It was a tremendous attendance last time and we have hired a meeting space at the stadium that will take about the same number.
“But we are expecting a lot of demand, so it would help us if people who plan to attend register with us to help us make plans for the meeting.”
Other topics to be discussed will be an update on medical research into dementia, how members of the public can get involved in the planning of dementia services and how health and social services’ plans will work together.
A full programme has been arranged by Action on Dementia Sunderland, and experts will be on hand to discuss any issues people may have about dementia care.
It is estimated that more than 3,400 people in Sunderland are living with dementia, with that figure set to rise to almost 4,000 by 2020.
Mr Thompson added: “We expect people in the early stages of the condition and their families and friends may wish to attend to find out more about what help is available in the city.
“There is still some stigma about dementia, but we want to help people understand more about what it means and to offer education.”
To register to attend the event, which takes place from 2pm on Thursday and includes free refreshments, email or phone 521 1438.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Don't talk to them, "Talk to me"

Just how many times have we heard a discussion about someone with an illness like dementia, and it seems that everyone is discussing the person, but not including them.

 I have been out with my wife at times, when someone has stopped to talk to hear, then you sometimes,  hear that upsetting sentence," How is Ken".

My wife sometimes gets very annoyed when this happens, and usually comes out with the same answer, he is right in front of you, why not ask him yourself, "he can talk for himself"
He is not a ghost, and what is more he has a tongue. 

I confess that when this happens, I usually turn and walk away, because I find comments like this to be offensive,  and the last thing I want to do is cause a war of words.

I know that other people have had the same problems, but it's quite upsetting, when people are so insensitive

However I do believe that it's because they simply do not know how to speak to us. 

We have this problem with one person who lives fairly close to us, and we have both got to the stage over the last few years, that we try to ignore him altogether.

It's not just the dementia side of things when this happens. 

I have been using a walking stick recently due to my balance and hip problems. 

The other day, my wife was shopping, and for some reason, I went into a different shop to do something else.

My wife came out steaming, because this person was there and asked, why I was using a walking stick?

I had passed and spoken to him over the last few months, and he never uttered a word about the stick.

This person used to have a wife, who had dementia, and I do wonder how he coped, or did he simply ask their carer the questions?

It's time to realise that we may have a brain illness, and may have bad days, but we do have feelings and can understand what us happening, so please talk to us, do not ignore us.

Retiring and taking it easy

After giving it a great deal of thought, I have decided to retire as a volunteer with the Alzheimer's Society.

I first became a volunteer in 2005, after my diagnosis, and from here I never really looked back.

I spent a lot of time fund raising etc, and then got involved in campaigning, although until that point, the thought of standing up and speaking in a committee at work was a thought which terrified me, let alone stand up and speak in public.

I honestly do not understand what happened, but I ended up travelling the UK with the society, giving talks about living well with dementia.

My son thinks that my wife and I travelled around 25-000 miles in the process, but although I found it to be tiring, it was worth it in the end to hear that I had inspired others to stand up and change their lives

During this time I was also honoured to be able to do quite a lot of media projects, on radio, television and in the news press.

Through this I was honoured to receive a Civic Award from our District council for my work on dementia, and then we were awarded two Brooke's awards by the Society, one for volunteering and the other for my work, short though it was, as a moderator on Talking Point.

Yes it kept me going and I enjoyed it, apart from the long journeys, but it kept my brain active and for that I am eternally grateful. 

I volunteered again with the Society two years ago hoping that I could still help others, but due to recurring chest problems, along with osteoarthritis in my hip and knee, it became too difficult to carry on.

So after much thought I decided that the time had come to, admit defeat and retire.

So today I have done just that, before I am tempted to think again

I still have some speaking engagements to do, and I will honour those, because it helps other people understand this illness, but after that I intend to take things easy. 

I will still get involved in certain projects, but will gradually wind down.

I know that in my good days I can still remain active on social media, and may need to pick what I get involved with in future, but there are now many younger people coming through, and it's nice to hear their stories for a change. 

They also possibly have totally different thoughts on how things should be run to me, so I will watch with interest.

It means quite a lot to me when I hear that I had inspired others newly diagnosed, to stand up and follow, in fact I feel quite humbled, but life moves on and I have to accept the fact that I am no longer as fit or active as I was.

I have found many new friends in this time, and hope that I will be able to keep in touch with them.

Thank you to all I have met on my travels. 


Time to retire and sit back

After Being a volunteer for the Alzheimer's Society since 2005, I have decided to sit back and retire.

I re registered as a volunteer two years ago, thinking that I could do more work, but found it difficult through health problems.

I have taken this decision because of my recurring Chest problems and now problems with my chest and knee, realising that it really is time to think of spending more time with my family.

Over the years I have enjoyed travelling around the UK talking about living well with Dementia. I was also a moderator on Talking Point, as well as being a media volunteer locally and nationally for the Society.

During this time I have worked on news articles in the national press, along with radio and television, something I have enjoyed.

My Son said he thought that we have travelled over 25-000 miles with the Society giving talks etc, but this all takes its toll, eventually and you have to sit back.

I have enjoyed being at conferences over the years, and have met many new friends on my travels.

I was also honoured to receive a Civic Award from our local Council,  and also had two awards from the Alzheimer's Society. 

I am also Honoured to be an Ambassador with the Lewy Body Society, and I will also carry on working with Northumbria University, for the time being

But  the rest will be faded out within the next few months. 

It's been a real pleasure working for and with people who have dementia, and feel a sense of pride when I inspire other people to stand up and speak out.

I will however carry on with my blog for as long as I can, and will do the occasional project if asked, otherwise I am going to spend more time trying to get my health sorted out.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Looking to the future

I am at present considering what I am going to do in the future, as it's become very obvious that it's time to give up volunteering for the Alzheimer's Society, due to continuous health problems.

However I have decided to spend the next few days deciding my future, and looking into other possibilities, where I am able to spend time in a more relaxing and less demanding way.

I have always wanted to spend a little more time learning photography, and trying my hand at art again.

 I used to be good at drawing but lost that art due to eyesight and co ordination problems, so this could be a challenge. 

I will carry on working in this area, but I think volunteering is now out of the question, as I cannot commit the time and energy any more. 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Working after a diagnosis of dementia etc

Many people lose their jobs after they have been diagnosed as having dementia.

But how many could have remained in work, if their employers had been more informed and caring.

I assume that people think that because you have been diagnosed as having dementia, you are unable to work or do anything constructive.

But if we got a diagnosis early enough, and got the medication, we would be able to carry on doing many jobs, and be paying tax, which is important to us all.

To get over this we all need to ensure that all employers are educated, so they fully understand what this illness,  is and then they can look at the person, rather than the illness.

Yes I know that I could not do my job as an engineer, as I could not remember large chunks of my job, and I guess I was not alone. 

But surely with more support and help we could be encouraged to get involved in industry, and help ourselves, by remaining active. 

After all, many people with this illness are encouraged to learn something new, so why not a job, with the right support anything is possible.

Looking back, I was somehow encouraged to stand up and speak about my illness, something I could never do at work. The mere thought of standing up and speaking terrified me, yet now it is part of my life.

So please if you run a company etc, and are looking for employees, remember those with early onset dementia, and give them a try. Look at the Person, not the illness.

We may have a brain disease, but we are just as human as other people. 

Getting a formal diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis of dementia is not as easy as it looks these days, nor is it as simple as Prime Minister David Cameron thinks it should be

This is because there are so many variations that it is difficult, to understand, let alone detect.

Many these days simply get the new diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment, something which many consultants use as a cop out, because it still covers the same problems that we see in many dementia's these days.

After speaking  to our family doctor the other day, I was amazed at how he described how some professionals willingly label someone as having  type A or B dementia, when they in fact have no real idea, and won't until we pop our clogs.

Some consultants are now changing patients diagnosis from dementia, to Mild Cognitive , simply because the person has not deteriorated fast enough. However this has to be difficult if the person lost their job etc, through having been diagnosed as having any form of dementia.

Yet as my family doctor said, if we were all the same, how is it that some people have been diagnosed as having a type of dementia for up to 15-20 years and are still going. Many of these people have scans to prove that their brain has shrunk etc.

It's because they simply got diagnosed earlier and did not sit back. But moved on and had an active life.

This is rather confusing and In some cases distressing,  because how many others are in the same boat, not knowing anymore about what they have been diagnosed with, especially if you lost things like your job, because you were unable or unsafe to do it. 

This also causes the person to lose confidence, and perhaps become depressed, all caused by possible ,mis diagnosis or clinicians who are too eager to give a name to an illness in the first place. 

This also causes people to lose confidence in the National Health Service, which is very understandable.

As my doctor said there is defiantly something wrong because my brain has shrunk, and because I lost my job as a College Engineer, and cannot remember how to do electrical work, estimates and budgets anymore.

To me this helps me to understand why our National Health Services are in such a mess these days. 

I heard that many people are going through a similar process, of being diagnosed a few years ago, and then having their diagnosis changed by the specialist, so something must be going on within the National Health Service in. The UK

I also understand now that some hospitals do not want you on their books, if you have been diagnosed over ten years.

Which is why you are re- diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, because you have not deteriorated fast enough, but I guess that's life, although it feels as if we may have been living a very bad dream which no one can answer. 

It's a bit like being diagnosed as having cancer, only to have someone come back years later to say, that you never had it in the first place. 

No one should be labeled as having an illness unless there is proof. 

This illness is difficult to diagnose as there are over 120 variations of dementia, so no matter what happens, they reckon that no two people with any form of dementia can have the same symptoms or problems, we are all individuals

This also leaves me wondering whether some of these so called wrongly diagnosed people, will go on on and sue the doctors who diagnosed them in the first place, it's becoming such a mine field.

So much for the Prime Minister saying that diagnosis of dementia should be done in 6 weeks, I do wonder if he us simply using dementia as a way of deflecting people from the problems he has caused within the National Health Service. 


Thursday, 16 April 2015

How can the NHS improve dementia care

How the NHS can improve care for dementia patients
Treating people with dementia costs the health service £4.3bn a year, the illness currently affects more than 800,000 people

David Cameron gave a commitment that all NHS staff will be required to undergo training in dementia.

There are over 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and numbers are expected to double within 30 years. Yet, despite the push for better dementia care, education and training in dementia for healthcare professionals remains patchy.

This gap in training is caused by a fixation on a “hospital only” model, instead of addressing the shift towards community care, according to the Dementia today and tomorrow report (pdf) for the Alzheimer’s Society. The document, published in February, calls for targeted initiatives so that appropriate education and training is provided for all staff across the NHS and social care.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, describes three tiers in dementia training. The base level is having better awareness for everyone in the NHS. To this end, the society has been working with the health service on a customised version of its Dementia Friends public awareness programme. 

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He commends Barbara’s Story, a film produced by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust. The 33 minute “soap opera”, already viewed by more than 12,500 NHS staff, is seen from the perspective of a patient with dementia and reveals her bewildering, confusing and sometimes frightening experiences of the healthcare system.

“It’s incredibly powerful,” says Hughes. “It’s a wonderful example of how you can convey the message to staff in a very poignant but not patronising way. And Guy’s has been making it available for other NHS trusts around the country to use.”

Meanwhile a joint initiative by Unison and the Open University is delivering dementia awareness workshops aimed at all levels of staff. The workshops are typically initiated by a Unison rep who works with the employer to organise the venue and publicity. An Open University tutor is funded by Unison to lead sessions, which include presentations, film clips, printed resources and group discussions.

Helga Pile is a national officer in Unison’s health group. She says the Queen Elizabeth hospital in King’s Lynn has delivered several of the workshops, following a Care Quality Commission inspection which identified problems in dementia care at the hospital. “The workshops have been very well received and lots of members say that they really want something like this,” she says. 

Hughes is confident that the base level of training is improving; likewise the top level training for geriatricians and others who have direct clinical expertise in dementia. The difficulty is the middle level where staff have clinical engagement with patients with dementia, but are not specialists.

We healthcare assistants are the least trained but most hands-on NHS staff

“These are people like the consultant working with somebody who may be in hospital because of orthopaedics, or an infection, but who also has dementia; or it’s the GP who has a patient who has dementia alongside other comorbidities,” he says.

In February prime minister David Cameron gave a commitment that all NHS staff – some 1.3 million people ranging from porters to surgeons – will be required to undergo training in dementia. The response has be mixed, however.

Royal College of Surgeons council member Scarlett McNally cautions: “While this initiative will raise awareness about dementia, any new NHS training package will need to be carefully planned and tested, as a ‘one size fits all’ package may not offer value to staff with very varied experiences.”

There are concerns too at the exclusion of 1.6 million social care staff who are increasingly expected to deliver services for people with dementia with little, or no, training.

Pile sees this as the elephant in the room: “When we talk to our members they describe how distressing it is when you haven’t got any experience or knowledge about dementia to try and go into people’s homes and not understanding why they might be behaving or responding as they do.”

Another issue is that there will be no extra money. “Local authorities have had 40% cuts to their budgets and they’re going to say they could not possibly deliver, or expect their providers to deliver this, without additional funding,” says Pile.

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Hughes says: “Our view is that it’s not a problem with the care home managers, but that commissioners are strapped for cash and aren’t giving sufficient fee levels to allow care home operators to provide training courses, and give people the time off for the training they need.”

He argues for separate funding, aside from the individual commission fee per patient, to help care home and domiciliary care operators to train staff in dementia.

Suzanne Rastrick is NHS England’s chief allied health professions officer. She thinks commissioners – local authorities or clinical commissioning groups – should include dementia training in their contracts. “For the provider it would be about demonstrating that they offer a quality service, and for the workforce it’s about giving them confidence in dealing with people with dementia.”

The Department of Health has given NHS organisations until 2018 to up their dementia training game. How optimistic is Hughes that this will be achieved? Hard facts will win through in the end, he believes. Indeed the Alzheimer’s Society’s latest Dementia UK update shows that the total annual cost of dementia is £26.3bn, with the NHS picking up £4.3bn and social care £10.3bn.

“People are increasingly recognising that it’s a false economy to have fully trained staff who don’t know enough about dementia and then patients who are admitted to hospital unnecessarily because the care home staff don’t understand what to do,” Hughes says.

Until the Government fully accepts that dementia, is a group of illnesses and not just one, we will never get anywhere.

For some reason Mr Cameron thinks that, there is only one form of Dementia, and therefore, if you have been trained in it, you know it all there is to know

Just how wrong can he be?

It is well documented that there are over 120 variations of this illness, so is he in all honesty, expecting all staff to be fully trained, in every aspect of the illness. 

Where will the time and money come from, to train all of these staff, or us he expecting the staff to train in their own time. 

This is one illness where one size does not fit all. 

We are all individuals, with individual problems and symptoms.

The NHS is now stretched and many trained staff are leaving, because of the added stress and pressure from this government.  

Many feel that they have been pushed to the limit, and by adding this, he is going to cause extra work and strain on the workforce


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Why dementia gets worse when the sun goes down

From the News Press

This article explains quite a lot to, me and my guess is that many others will read this with great interest, because it’s never as far as I know been explained by someone in the medical field before in such detail

Why dementia gets worse when the sun goes down - and what anxious carers can do to make things better 
·         This is the final week of our major Good Health series on dementia
·         We turn our attention to carers and what can be done to make life easier 
·         In England there are more than 670,000 unpaid carers helping someone
·         We explain what to if they become anxious as the light starts to fade

Looking after someone with dementia can stretch people to their limits, and there are many in this situation. In England alone, there are more than 670,000 unpaid carers helping someone with dementia.
Here, in the final week of our major Good Health series on dementia, we turn our attention to the carers and what can be done to make life easier for them and their loved ones...
Scroll down for video 

Looking after someone with dementia can stretch people to their limits. Here's how to make life easier
The early stages of the disease bring changes that may be so subtle that some friends and acquaintances are unaware that there is anything wrong - and this stage can continue for many years.
But as the disease progresses and more damage is done to the brain, symptoms become more pronounced: difficulties with communication become more intense and issues such as getting dressed or managing day-to-day affairs become more problematic.
This marks the beginning of the middle stage, the longest stage, which can last for several years. It's when the condition becomes more challenging and extra help may be needed.
However, there will be good days as well as bad. The following can help . . .
In the early stages of dementia, it's the short-term memory that's most affected, making it harder for patients to keep track of the day, or even what time of day it is.
I've found that sticking to a routine helps keep someone with dementia better orientated, and gets their body clock into a rhythm.
In the early stages, aim to establish fixed times of day for the following - it may help to write this on a board that's kept next to a calendar (cross it off to show what day it is) and a clock, so that they know what to expect when.
·         Bed and getting-up times.
·         When to take medication.
·         Meal times.
·         Shopping days.
·         Leisure time such as TV, radio or social times.
In the middle stages of dementia, routines may still be useful but patients can be more prone to mood changes, so be flexible. Encourage but don't coerce.
Often people with dementia may display more symptoms and anxiety as the light starts to fade
The middle stage of dementia inevitably heralds changes in behaviour. This can be one of the toughest things to cope with, for at times it may seem as if the person you know and love has gone. The following are common:
This can be very draining as some people with dementia do not like to let their carer out of their sight. Clinginess is the return of a psychological reflex from our toddler years - a toddler will cry when their mother moves away or when a stranger approaches.

As the dementia progresses, the loss of nerve cells in the brain allows old reflexes that were replaced in adulthood by more complex brain pathways to resurface.

What to do: The best way to deal with it is by diluting contact - try introducing other regular carers as soon as the person being cared for starts to display any clingy behaviour. The clinging behaviour may now apply to many people, not just one.

Around 60 per cent of those with dementia wander - pacing around the house or outside of the home - and the problem is they can get lost, as the damage to the hippocampus part of the brain means they lose their sense of orientation.
What to do: If they tell you they're going out don't argue but speak calmly and tell them they don't need to as they are 'staying here' tonight.

Avoid busy places such as shopping centres. People with dementia may find these disorientating and when they get home this disorientation can continue and induce wandering so they may feel the urge to leave the house.

Wandering about the house at night can arise from a need to go to the loo. Ensure they don't have too much fluid before bed and install night-lights to help prevent falls. Painting the walls and doors a matching colour makes it less likely that the person with dementia will find their way out.

You could also consider moving the lock higher up the door to a less familiar place.
You may want to consider installing movement sensors to alert you to potential problems.
Two-thirds of those with Alzheimer's experience 'sundowning', which possibly happens due to a disruption to brain chemicals affecting the body clock
Worrying for no reason or displaying physical symptoms such as palpitations are signs that the dementia patient may be suffering with anxiety.

What to do: Try to identify what's causing it - have there been more people round than normal, or have they had too much caffeine? Many of the triggers may be unavoidable, but it can help to keep their surroundings as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

Put pictures and familiar possessions around them. Pleasant smells such as flowers, baking aromas and soap may trigger memories that help distract them from their anxious feelings.
Playing music can also be calming. Talking to them can distract them, too. But never talk down to them or use childish language as this could make them angry.
Anger and aggression

It can be confusing when someone who was once so patient and tolerant becomes prone to temper tantrums.

What to do: It's important to consider any physical reasons that might be making them this way.

Pain is a common cause of anger in those with dementia, as are urinary or chest infections, a stroke, or even something as simple as not having had enough sleep.
If you suspect any of these is possible, then speak to a doctor.
Speak to the person with dementia reassuringly, in a calm manner. Use music or a calming activity such as massaging or stroking their hand or brushing their hair to distract them.
If, however, they seem aggressive do not put yourself in danger. If necessary, move back and wait for them to calm down.

Keep the person busy at sundown and in the early evening
Often people with dementia have good and bad days but also good and bad times during a given day - and often they may display more symptoms and anxiety as the light starts to fade, becoming confused, agitated, restless or showing repetitive behaviours.
This pattern is referred to as 'sundowning'.
It's not clear why this happens - it's possible it's to do with a disruption to brain chemicals affecting the body clock. Two-thirds of those with Alzheimer's disease experience sundowning.
It can occur at any stage of the condition, but tends to peak at the middle stage and lessen as the disease progresses.
What to do: Keep the person busy at sundown and in the early evening. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or alcohol at this time of day as this may make them more excitable. A rocking chair can help as it is soothing and relaxing. It may also help to introduce more light into the room.
With dementia, the parts of the brain that normally deal with understanding, thought processing and language deteriorate.

The patient may struggle with nuances and may lose their sense of humour; they may also get frustrated and cross when they can't quickly bring to mind the words they need.
Furthermore, they may seem to get stuck in a loop and repeat the same question again and again.
The following strategies can help tackle these issues:
·         Before you start talking always engage eye contact to help get the person with dementia to focus on you. There can be a tendency for them to look away and this makes it harder for them to concentrate on the conversation.
·         Be careful about asking questions they may be unable to process. For example, if they're upset don't ask what's wrong as they may not know, or are unable to put it into words. Instead, tell them: 'You seem to be upset; let's think how we can make you feel better.'
·         Finishing sentences for them can increase frustration. It's better to ask if they'd like you to find words for them if they're having difficulty.
·         Watch their body language as this can give you clues about how they are feeling. For example, repetitive movements can mean they are anxious or scared, while withdrawing may mean they feel overwhelmed.
·         If they're doing something obviously wrong, for example putting dishes in the washing machine or clothes in a food cupboard, don't ask them why or castigate them - the reasoning side of their brain has been affected and pointing out their mistakes will only cause them embarrassment and frustration.
Better to say: 'You seem to have put the crockery in the washing machine. Did you mean to put them in the dishwasher?'

■ Dr Souter is a retired GP and fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Adapted by LUCY ELKINS from Your Guide To Understanding And Dealing With Dementia by Dr Keith Souter, published by Summersdale, £8.99. Order at, or call 0808 272 0808, p&p is free for a limited time only. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Help create Amble as a Dementia friendly community

Help create Amble as a Dementia friendly community

Two information sessions are being held in Amble, to increase general awareness of dementia in the community.
Dementia Friends is being run by the Alzheimer’s Society. It’s funded by the government and aims to improve people’s understanding of dementia and its effects to achieve this goal.
At the moment Dementia Friends is only being funded to run in England and currently we can only run training sessions in England.
Dementia-image-with-creditA Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action – anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about Dementia on Social Media, every action counts.
Friends’ information sessions are run by Dementia Friends Champions, who are volunteers who have taken the Dementia Friends Champions’ training. Each Friends’ information session lasts around one hour. You will learn more about dementia and how you can help to create dementia friendly communities. You could also encourage your colleagues to join Dementia Friends, particularly if your work brings you into contact with people living with dementia.
A dementia friends information session will enable you to learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and to turn that understanding into action. Information sessions, open to anyone, have been arranged as follows.
Monday 13th April 5.30 p.m. in Fourways 2
Wednesday 15th April 1 p.m. in Fourways 2
For any further information contact Ann on 0777 302 4528

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