In the UK there are currently 5-10% of people over the age of 65 who are affected by dementia. As we live longer more and more of the population will be affected by this condition.
Due to the prevalence of this debilitating illness care homes in the UK, including Gracewell Healthcare have had to implement new methods of helping residents who may be suffering from dementia. One of the main ways in which to help someone who might be afraid that their normal signs of aging are in fact dementia is to go to a local GP and get a thorough check-up. One of the key tests that will be implemented is an assessment of memory; there are distinct differences between genuine absent-mindedness and the onset of dementia. Other tests will include general organisational skills, the ability to retain new ideas and also a language test as too often people with dementia find it increasingly difficult to translate their thoughts into words.
If someone is already in residential care for other reasons there are numerous ways in which careful nursing and therapy can ensure that the resident can still enjoy a happy and successful life. Some care homes incorporate a multi sensory garden and involve local schools in tree planting ceremonies. Involvement with local schools and community associations is of huge benefit to both the resident and their surrounding environment. It is widely acknowledged that this type of interaction can provided a valuable learning process between the young and the old.
Good food is also an essential part of any stimulatory programme. It’s far more pleasant to enjoy one’s food, especially if it’s nutritious. Older people in general need food that is high in calcium; they also need to keep hydrated as lack of fluids can lead to excessive fatigue and even depression. A bright and tasty meal can do wonders to revive the spirits, especially if it is home cooked. Another aspect of specialist care for those suffering from dementia is to introduce a memory box. Health care specialists have discovered that patients with dementia can often remember distant memories more clearly than an incident that occurred yesterday. A memory box will help the resident retain their memories and then they can always take out a reassuring photograph or tape/CD of music to recall happy times.
Specialist, individual nursing is also essential. A good care home will always tailor a care plan for each new resident and this will take both mental and physical frailties into account. Many older members of society have mobility problems and have to use a wheel chair, raised flower beds in a garden are a huge asset as it means that everyone can take advantage of the beauties of a scented flowerbed. Care for those with dementia can prove to be highly rewarding with the introduction of a bit of imagination and empathy.
Gracewell Healthcare on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website