The early symptoms of dementia & how to manage it

Dementia affects more than 850,000 people in the UK alone. This number is projected to go over 1.6 million by 2040. Around half of our clients at Guardian Carers are affected by dementia.

But what are the signs of dementia and how can this condition be managed?

What are the early signs of dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term which describes a very wide variety of progressive neurological disorders, the most common form being Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, 90% of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

It can be quite difficult to identify the early signs of dementia. Some dementia signs actually start even 20 years or so before an individual becomes symptomatic. The telling signs of dementia are very subtle.

But the signs everyone who is concerned with getting dementia should keep an eye out for are memory lapses and repeating questions. Memory loss is the main symptom and challenge for people with dementia. This can actually start to show very early on. Having difficulty remembering what you had for breakfast or not being able to weigh things in the balance is one sign of dementia which should be taken into consideration. Some other signs to keep in mind which are in direct relation to dementia are depression or psychotic episodes.

It’s important to note that in very rare cases dementia may even be genetically inherited. It can be passed on from parent to child through their genes. This normally happens in people above the age of 65. But it is indeed an extremely rare form of dementia.

How can dementia be managed?

Dementia can be managed and its progress can be slowed down, but it cannot be stopped. As dementia progresses people stop recognising their friends and family and generally everyone around them. It’s important to manage this situation as it is very distressing for the person suffering from dementia.

It’s essential for a person with dementia to be kept in touch with their life and to have a sense of familiarity. For example, reliving any such moments of familiarity will help them develop some bursts of recognition.

While prompting someone’s memory can be a challenging task, it is not impossible. It’s widely recommended across professionals, carers and families to create a life story. This essentially means creating a scrapbook of memories. Creating an album with pictures or life memorabilia will prompt the memory of the person with dementia. This is deeply linked with emotion. If these memories can evoke emotion in the dementia sufferer they will start remembering certain life events linked to those photographs.

The same applies to music therapy. In recent years music therapy has been widely used in the treatment of dementia. People with dementia respond very well to music. Music can enhance communication, bring back memories and help them express their feelings and emotions.

How can a home carer help someone with dementia?

Home carers are individuals who are trained in helping people who suffer from dementia. Having a home carer is actually a fantastic way of helping someone with dementia, as opposed to moving them into a care home.

For a person with dementia, remaining in their home, near their friends and family is the best thing. Being in their cherished home where they may have lived all their life, among memories and photographs is very beneficial. Taking them from the familiarity of their home will only provoke more disruption.

A home carer can solely focus on the care of one person, while in a care home they have to be attentive to many more people. Having a home carer will ensure that the person suffering from dementia has all the attention and care on them.

A home carer will get to know the dementia sufferer, will know their likes and dislikes and will get to form a tight bond with them. They will be there for them from morning to night and cater to their everyday needs. They will also make sure that they keep an eye on them to ensure that no unwanted accidents happen.

Home carers are great because while they are in the home to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of the person, they are also there to take care of the home. A home carer will help with anything from health monitoring and mobility assistance to personal care and home administration.

Some of the things that a home carer can do for a person with dementia are:

  • Personal care
  • Mobility assistance
  • Medication prompting
  • Running errands
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking
  • Hoovering
  • Dusting
  • Doing laundry

Home carers are great because while they can do all and more of the above-mentioned tasks, they are also there to help the person with dementia maintain their independence and a sense of self. They are able to help them have a healthy and active life and engage them in activities daily to stimulate their brain and memory.

A home carer can play games, read books, listen to music or watch old movies with the dementia sufferer. They can do anything they enjoy doing with the person. But they will also ensure that they keep an active lifestyle which suits their abilities. This can be anything from light stretching or physiotherapy to walks in the garden or in the park.

A home carer is a great addition to the home of someone who suffers from dementia. Home carers can ensure that the person lives their life as independently, actively and comfortably as possible. There is no question about the benefits that a home carer can bring.

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