World Alzheimer’s Month is a campaign that runs throughout September. The event is organised by The Alzheimer’s Society which aims is to get more people talking about Alzheimer’s by encouraging as many of us as possible to sign up as Dementia Friends. For World Alzheimer’s Month, here at Brendoncare, we’re starting off by answering some important and common questions about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. It affects a person’s memory and can have a significant impact on the way people living with Alzheimer’s are able to think, talk and respond. Problem-solving and decision-making skills are often areas that are widely-noted as being impaired following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
We all forget things or find ourselves lost from time to time, but these are recognisable symptoms that can be upsetting and distressing over a prolonged period of time.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, with mild symptoms gradually developing into a condition that has the potential to alter daily life. Not just for the individual, but for their loved ones, too.
At Brendoncare, we understand that Alzheimer’s, along with dementia, present a unique set of conditions that differ from one person to the next. Our specialist dementia care services are driven by kindness, dignity and respect, with person-centred care at the heart of what we do.
We currently have four care homes that offer this level of care. A new, purpose-built nursing and dementia home in Winchester, St. Giles View, is due to open in summer 2022.
What are the different types of dementia care?
There is a wide variety of care options for people living with dementia. These include residential care, nursing care, a mixture of the two and respite care, for those in need of a short-term break.
Within our homes, there is much that our trained care staff teams deliver to help improve the quality of life, including:
Robotic therapy pets – Life-like cats and dogs are an ever-present in many of our homes, including Brendoncare Alton and Brendoncare Froxfield. The benefits of robotic therapy pets include improved wellbeing and reduced anxiety. They also stimulate visual and emotional senses, as animals move and make sounds by responding to voice and touch. Brendoncare fundraises regularly to support the purchase of these popular animals for more of our homes.
Material Citizenship – Care staff at Brendoncare Knightwood and Brendoncare Park Road have received training on this groundbreaking conceptual framework. Material Citizenship has been developed by Dr. Kellyn Lee, a chartered psychologist at the University of Southampton and a Brendoncare Trustee. It is designed to ensure people living with dementia enjoy a meaningful life. We are proud to support ongoing work into this innovative and person-centred approach.
Music therapy – Residents at Brendoncare Froxfield receive a weekly visit from Arash Bazrafshan, a trained music therapist and the Director of MusiKind. Music therapy can also be found in a growing number of our homes. It allows people living with dementia to reconnect with music, with the option of playing an instrument. Depending on their personal capacity, some residents choose to sing or dance instead. See for yourself in this short video:
How do I know if I have Alzheimer’s?
Increasing awareness of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s is a key part of World Alzheimer’s Month. Notable changes in a person’s behaviour are perhaps the signpost that they may have Alzheimer’s. It is a condition that is diagnosed in one of three stages:
Early: The most likely condition is forgetfulness, memory loss, repetitive questioning, and reluctance to try new things.
Middle-stage: This can also include confusion, disorientation, a progressively downward change in behaviour and mood.
Late-stage: The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress slowly over several years. Sometimes these symptoms are confused with other conditions and may initially be put down to old age.
And it’s here, in the more advanced stages, where full-time care can be a life-changing solution. Not just to the individual but to their families, as the condition impacts everyone’s quality of life.
Naturally, how quickly a person living with Alzheimer’s progresses through the different stages does vary. Other physical changes, like a stroke or infections, can make things worse sooner. At any rate, a conversation with a GP is always advised.
Brendoncare offers respite or permanent care following a dementia diagnosis. Our kind and compassionate care staff teams work with other healthcare professionals to ensure the right level of care is always available, 24 hours a day. We do all we can to help make the moving-in period as smooth as possible.
In the first instance, if you are unsure about a person’s welfare, mental or physical condition, you should contact your GP. In the event of a positive diagnosis, they may be able to make a professional referral.
If you feel your loved one can no longer live at home, either on their own or with you in some capacity, the qualified and dedicated teams Brendoncare homes will gladly extend their offer of more care and support.
What can I do if my loved one has Alzheimer’s?
Realising the moment that life has changed can be emotionally challenging. The road ahead may look uncertain but rest assured that there is plenty of support available for you.
Moving a partner, spouse or a family member into a specialist dementia care home isn’t the only option. Alzheimer’s Research UK has published a list of support options for carers.
However, many people take great comfort in knowing their loved one is in a safe and secure environment, and being cared for by trusted professionals who take time to cultivate a home-from-home feeling.
Our homes are welcoming new admissions and we’re booking tours, either in-person or virtually, each day.
How do I know if choosing dementia care is the right option?
A move into one of our care or nursing homes, be it a permanent arrangement or simply for a few weeks, can take the pressure off you as a carer – and help get your relationship back, as you reconnect and begin to regrow that loving relationship.
Our professional teams will be there to support the change every step of the way, allowing you more time to focus on being a daughter, son, husband, wife or partner.
Can I get respite care for dementia?
Yes. Respite care for a person living with dementia can have many benefits. Even if your loved ones’ capacity to hold onto memories has decreased, the fact that you know still know them is crucial. Through visits, stories, video calls, letters and gifts, you can still bring them an astonishing amount of smiles and joy, and make new memories for yourself.
To find out more, talk to a member of our team who will be able to explain your options.