‘The Live-In Care Hub’ produced a report called ‘No Place Like Home’. In it they found that a diagnosis of Dementia can be devastating for the whole family with increased pressure on relationships, lifestyles and finances. The research showed that the top concerns were:
· 78% “I would end up resenting them or feeling angry.”
· 72% “We’d have to sell their home to fund a care home.”
· 70% “They might have to go into residential care.”
· 69% “My family won’t be able to afford good quality care.”
· 65% “It will divide our family or cause relationship problems.”
· 97% of people don’t want to go into a care home if they become ill or less able to cope.
The total number of people with Dementia in the UK is forecast to increase by 38% over the next 15 years. By 2037 the number of ‘carers’ will have to rise to 9 million to keep pace with the levels of frail and disabled people (Alzheimer’s Society ‘Dementia UK’ Report 2014).
Dementia is a blanket term to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders. There are many different types of Dementia and diseases that can cause it. Some common types are:
- Alzheimer’s Disease.
· This is the most common form of Dementia in the UK.
· It is caused by protein abnormalities causing ‘plaques’ that live between the dying cells and ‘tangles’ which live in the cells.
· With Alzheimer’s the numbers of cells, nerve cells and connections decline causing the brain to actually shrink.
· The first sign is usually memory loss of names of things and people or conversations and events.
· Symptoms include confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar surroundings.
· Difficulty in decision making or planning.
· Problems with speech.
· Problems with dressing, washing or moving around.
· Personality changes: becoming suspicious, aggressive and inflexible.
- Vascular Dementia.
· This is caused by lack of blood to the brain. Either developing as a result of a narrowing or blockage of small blood vessels in the brain or because of a sudden event such as a stroke or smaller TIAs (Transient Ischaemic Attacks).
· It is reasonably common to have a combination of Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia.
· Symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s although often also characterised by problems with attention and concentration.
· If caught early it is possible to stop or slow the progression of Vascular Dementia.
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies.
· Lewy bodies are small lumps of protein that develop inside the brain cells.
· People with Dementia with Lewy Bodies can display any symptoms of other forms of Dementia but also can experience the following:
· Stiff limbs and tremors similar to Parkinson’s Disease.
· Hallucinations / visual disturbance.
· Sleeplessness at night and sleepiness in the daytime.
· Fainting, falls, unsteadiness.
· Unpredictable changes from alertness to sleepiness to staring into space.
- Frontotemporal Dementia
a. This is caused by proteins building up in the front and sides of the brain. This is one of the few forms of Dementia where there is a known genetic link.
b. Dementia is most commonly diagnosed after 65 but this form is mostly diagnosed in people aged 45 -65.
c. Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia include:
· Personality and behaviour changes – acting inappropriately or impulsively, appearing selfish, neglecting personal hygiene, overeating or apathy.
· Language problems – speaking slowly, getting words in the wrong order, using the wrong words or making the wrong sounds when saying a word.
· Becoming distracted, struggling with planning and organisation.
· Memory problems, although unlike other forms, these only tend to occur in later stages.
· Muscle weakness, bowel and bladder weakness and sometimes difficulty swallowing.