Dementia is pretty common these days, according to The Alzheimer’s Society there’s around 800,000 people in the UK with a form of dementia which affects one in three people aged 65 and over with two thirds of that figure being women. Unfortunately these figures are likely to rise because people are living longer nowadays.
There are a few early signs of dementia to look out for, though they can be very subtle and not immediately obvious- this includes; loss of memory that affects daily function, difficulty performing familiar tasks, being confused about time and place, problems with language, problems with abstract thinking, decreased judgement, misplacing things, changes in personality and behavior, and a loss of initiative. If you suspect yourself or someone else is having any of these symptoms then go and have a chat with your GP who can formally diagnose if dementia is the case.
Caring For Mrs S.
Before I had my daughter I was a carer mainly for elderly people with dementia, I’d go to each individual house and do various tasks depending on the individuals needs. One lady in particular will always stick in my mind, and that’s Mrs S.
Mrs S was lucky enough to have her grown up children who would take turns in staying at her house with her, but they needed to work and also have their own life so Mrs S had carers come in 3 times a day. In the morning I would have to wake her up gently without startling her, it was like waking a child up and trying to do so nicely so they didn’t get grumpy. I’d then have to shower her, dry her and help her get dressed. Mrs S would then sit on the sofa while I brushed her hair and waited for the kettle to boil. She would then be given her breakfast, cuppa, and some biscuits (she could feed herself) I then had to make sure she took her handful of medication (there was around 8 or more pills) now many carers had difficulty getting Mrs S to take her medication, meaning it had to be left until her daughter came back, but Mrs S always took her medication for me; she’d screw her nose up and say “do I ‘av to take all that rubbish?” To which I’d look at the pills in her hand and say “yeah they sort out all those aches and pains, I have to take the sane amount for my bad back”. She would then smile and take her medication with no problem. Now I never took pills for a bad back, especially that amount, but it comforted her to think I had to do the same as her. In the afternoon I’d pop in, make her some lunch and a cuppa usually with more biscuits, and often eat my own packed lunch with her so that she had company while eating. Mrs S would often be watching daytime TV, so we’d chat about whatever she was watching and she’d often smile if I started singing along to any adverts or music playing. (I was known as the singing carer). In the evenings I would get Mrs S changed into her night wear, and gently apply a medical cream to her legs while she watched the likes of Emmerdale on TV. Her daughter always told me I was the most gentle carer that visited, and that her mum felt comfortable with me being there- which was lovely to know but also sad to think that other carers didn’t make her feel as comfortable. Mrs S always called me her ‘little girl’ because I was the youngest carer.
Now the company I worked for asked me to keep my tattoos covered up when possible and to remove my piercings and jewelry, which I didn’t argue with- however, when I was caring for Mrs S I kept my jewelry in and rolled my sleeves up to show my tattoos. This was because without doing it, Mrs S would get distressed and not have a clue who I was, even though we all had specific uniforms as carers, she couldn’t associate me with being her carer unless she could see my piercings and tattoos. A member of management told me off for it once, but I refused to change because I wanted to keep Mrs S feeling safe with me knowing who I was.
When caring for someone with dementia, it is important to make them feel comfortable and safe, as going through dementia is terrifying. People with dementia tend to regress back to their past, for example they could believe they’re 20 years old again whereas in reality they’re 80. Sometimes they could ask things like “when is mum coming home?”- because in their mind their mum is still alive- instead of correcting them and saying “your mums been dead 30years”, just say something like “she’s gone away on a work trip remember” to just go along with them, otherwise by telling them the truth you could seriously distress and upset them, so it’s better to just humour them and go along with it.
You need to have a lot of patience when caring for someone with dementia, which can be easier said than done sometimes.
There is a lot of help and support available for those with dementia and those caring for them, if you’re unsure of what help is available then don’t be afraid to ask a GP or another medical professional. It is important to care for the person with dementia, but you also need to look after yourself too.
🔹immeamy, you’re you, and that’s the best way to be🔹