Dispelling Dementia Myths
As Britain faces an increasingly ageing population, the subject of dementia has become a hot topic. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK, but the organisation anticipates that this figure will reach well over a million within the next ten years, with over two million sufferers by the year 2051.
Despite the rapid growth of dementia amongst the elderly, there is still a huge lack of knowledge amongst members of the public about the various types of the disease and what can be done to help those who fall prey to it. Most sufferers tend to be elderly, so dementia is a common problem in care homes. This can add to the distress of dementia patients who find themselves removed from their familiar surroundings. Friends and family members can find the situation equally upsetting and are often at a loss as to how to help their loved ones to cope with progressive memory loss.
Resources to Remember
In an effort to raise awareness of dementia and dispel some of the most popular myths concerning the disease, the Alzheimer’s Society has recently joined forces with Sunrise Senior Living in a national campaign entitled, Resources to Remember. As part of the initiative, Sunrise Care Home at Elstree hosted an interactive event which included a tea party, live music and a talk by a Dementia Friends Champion about the ways in which sufferers can be helped to cope. The aim is to ensure that care providers and family members are kept informed about the many ways in which they can help sufferers to enjoy the best possible quality of life.
Dementia isn’t infectious and is very rarely due to genetic causes. Elderly people can be more prone to memory loss than their younger counterparts, but thanks to our increasingly ageing population, there are now more people than ever before living beyond the age of 85. However, old age alone is not a guarantee of developing dementia.
A popular myth is the suggestion that using aluminium cookware is a contributory factor in developing dementia, but research has shown this to be completely unfounded. Using aluminium saucepans and drinking from aluminium drinks cans will not cause mental impairment.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia, does not mean that the sufferer is bound to suffer a complete loss of mental faculties. New drugs and treatments can effectively slow the progress of the disease. Keeping fit and active, and eating a healthy and nutritious diet can play an important part in maintaining an independent lifestyle for many years.
Dignity, respect and safety
Care homes are being encouraged to find ways of making life better and safer for dementia sufferers. This can involve using technology to alert staff members if a sufferer is getting out of bed or leaving his or her room. Handrails and non-slip flooring can help to prevent trips, slips and falls, and pendant alarms can provide the sufferer with an easy way to call for assistance when required.
Photographs, songs and memories from the past can help to keep past memories alive and give a sense of well-being to the sufferer. A varied programme of activities can stimulate the mental processes and help to foster self-esteem.
Care providers and family members are urged to seek out information on ways in which they can enrich the lives of dementia patients, and the Resources to Remember initiative is an important step in highlighting the fact that a dementia diagnosis does not mean the end of a useful and active life.