Thursday, 5 November 2015
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Last month all the Village Agents received dementia training as part of a scheme to make communities more dementia friendly. Although I knew what dementia was, I was not aware exactly how it affected the brain so I thought I would share this with you all to help us understand those with the condition a little better.
Many people develop dementia in later life (although it can affect younger people as well) but with support from family, friends and carers people with dementia can still have a full life. There are a number of different forms, with Alzheimer’s being the most common. It usually starts by affecting people’s short term memory, but can also affect perception, so for example people may not recognise themselves in the mirror.
You can imagine the brain as a not very well made bookcase with your memories stored in a set of encyclopaedias, stacked from the bottom shelf upwards. Every new memory goes into a book which is then placed on a high shelf. If something shakes this wonky bookcase the volumes on the top shelf fall off, they are the most recent memories of today, this week, last month, all gone. Lower down the books are still safely on the shelf and you can remember 10 years ago, or the French you learnt at school.
You keep feelings and opinions in a separate book, which isn’t stored on the bookshelf. So you will know how you feel: happy, sad, hungry, don’t like chocolate, without remembering why you feel that way.
So it’s no good telling a loved one that they can remember what they had for lunch, or getting cross when they tell you the same thing over and over again. To make someone feel good, treat each time as the first time that they tell you a particular story. It is important to remember that having to make sense of a world you don’t remember is very hard work and those with dementia can get tired very easily.
You can join me in becoming a Dementia Friend – the Alzheimer’s Society runs short courses. If you are concerned about someone, the Alzheimer’s Society can help. The national helpline is 0330 333 0804. The website is Alzheimers.org.uk.
The Exmoor Carers Group will be meeting on Monday 26th September (12-2pm) at The Rest & Be Thankful, Wheddon Cross. All welcome, guest speaker to be confirmed.