What is an Advance Care Plan (ACP)?

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What is an Advance
Care Plan (ACP)?

Kindly written by Debbie Callow RMN

An Advance Care Plan, known as an ACP, is an umbrella term that contains a plan made in advance of reaching the end of your life that details key wishes, preferences, and legal aspects of your care needs. It was previously known as a Living Will, some people may still know it as that, but this is a more outdated term. It is important for us all to complete but even more so for a person experiencing dementia as there is a risk of losing mental capacity as the disease progresses.

I’m Dementia Debbie, The Dementia Coach and I’m a registered mental health nurse specialising in supporting families facing dementia with tough transitions through their dementia journey. I believe education is key to helping the world understand dementia, after all knowledge is power, so let me help you understand some basics about what to consider in an ACP.

An ACP can encompass an array of documents such as an Advance Statement, Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR), Advance Directives (different from an advance statement). It can also include information related to after death such as Will information or funeral arrangements. It’s important to know that an ACP helps guide professionals and families in the right direction when a person has lost mental capacity and the team are trying to act in the person’s best interests. If a person still has mental capacity, they may wish to use their ACP to help them make decisions, as it allows you to consider tough decisions ahead of time. Trying to decide when an event is occurring can often mean our judgement is clouded as our emotions are heightened at this time. The ACP helps take away from that decision-making process at those challenging times when it can be difficult to think straight.  

Health and Social Care professionals will often use a lot of jargon, sometimes without even realising, and you may not know what that abbreviation or word means. Always ask a professional what they mean if they use a term that you are not sure about. Let me explain now what all those documents I listed entail:

Advance Statement

A personal statement of your wishes when you reach the end of your life, it is mainly focused on pre-death but can include details of where your Will is or who holds it, as well as your funeral wishes. People often want to include things like “I wish to be pain free”, “I wish to have my family around me”, “I wish to always be treated with dignity and respect”, “I wish to be cared for at home”. Consider though the deeper meaning to these statements, for example, what do you mean by “pain free”, do you want to be so dosed up on medications you are free from pain but not really aware of who is in the room, or would rather tolerate some pain so you can be more aware of your surroundings? Everyone will feel differently about this and it’s important to always consider what a statement really means to that individual. Similarly, someone who wishes to remain at home, that can be option A, but what if it was not safe to remain at home, under what circumstances would you consider an option B and C? Put these variations to your preferences in your Advance Statement, it can save a lot of heartache and guilt later on if people already know what you want if you couldn’t stay at home for some reason. You can find a template to complete an ACP on the Dementia UK website. (1)

LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney)

A legal document that enables a person with mental capacity to appoint a person/s to speak on their behalf about important financial and or health matters. If a person has already lost mental capacity, then they cannot get an LPA and may need a representative to apply to the Court of Protection to become a Deputy. There are 2 types of LPA, Financial & Property which can be active before a person loses capacity and Health & Welfare which is only applicable once a person has lost capacity. If an appointed Attorney is active, they should always be advocating for what that person would want and in their best interests. I would always recommend getting legal advice to complete these documents. A solicitor such as, Total Legacy Care, will talk through many scenarios with you to ensure the LPA is strong and lasting. You can find information about all of these matters at the Office of the Public Guardian. (2)

DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

This is another legal document and the biggest misconception about DNACPR is that it means professionals are giving up on the person, it does not mean that! It only applies in the event of the heart stopping and whether you would then want CPR to try and restart your heart. It does not apply to any other health matter or care need.

It is a medical decision whether to put one in place but should always be done with consultation with the patient (if possible) and family. I think the easiest way to think about whether or not you or someone you love might need a DNACPR is;

Would it feel wrong to you to see someone aggressively pushing up and down on that person’s chest?

If you feel yes it would, speak to the GP about getting one put in place.

CPR is not a gentle process, it often causes bruising, skin tears, sometimes broken bones. CPR is only successful in 10% of cases that happen outside of hospital (3) and is 3 times less likely to be successful on someone with a cognitive impairment. (4)

Advance Directives

Another legally binding document and are about refusing life sustaining treatment. Not many people have them as the wording must be extremely precise and include phrases such as “even if my life is at risk as a result”. An Advance Directive informs of the treatment being refused and the circumstances in which you wish to refuse that treatment.

For example, specific treatment: I wish to refuse artificial feeding through a tube to my stomach or IV, circumstances: I wish to no longer receive food or fluids through a feeding tube when I can no longer swallow safely due to my dementia, even with the support of others, even if my life is at risk as a result.

The reason to put in your health condition is that this same sentence may not apply in different circumstances. A person with dementia may want artificially feeding if the reason they cannot eat is from a stroke which they are expected to recover from.

Advance Directives should always be discussed with your specialist consultant involved and with legal support.

I offer support to complete an Advance Statement and can talk through the other aspects discussed. You can follow me on Instagram @dementiadebbie or visit my website https://thedementiacoach.org/.

Reference resources

  1. Dementia UK ACP template https://www.dementiauk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DUK_ACP_form_editable_online.pdf
  2. Office of the Public Guardian https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-public-guardian.
  3. Resus Council UK https://www.resus.org.uk/home/faqs/faqs-basic-life-support-cpr
  4. Arcand M. End-of-life issues in advanced dementia: Part 1: goals of care, decision-making process, and family education. Can Fam Physician. 2015;61(4):330-334. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4396757/

The challenges of Young Onset Dementia are significantly different

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The challenges of Young Onset Dementia are significantly different

Many have the misconception that Dementia is a natural part of ageing…IT IS NOT!

Another common misconception is that Dementia is only prevalent in later years, again IT IS NOT.

Dementia, although not as frequent, can be diagnosed from any age and in the UK alone there are over 42,000 people with Dementia that are under the age of 65, which is around 5% of those with Dementia.

The challenges faced by those with a diagnosis of Young Onset Dementia are often significantly different to those diagnosed with Dementia at a later stage of their life.

Some of those challenges include:

Having to decide whether they can continue to work

For those that are still employed when receiving their diagnosis of Dementia, they will be faced with the unenviable task of speaking with the employer and discussing with their family and medical professionals to see exactly what they can continue to do, what they should expect and whether any work is possible and if so, for how long.

It may be that hours need to be reduced, roles need to change or adjust to capabilities, or perhaps work will need to stop completely.

Reducing hours, or stopping work altogether, can have a big impact not only financially (which we explore a little later) but also emotionally, physically and in terms of keeping the mind active. Without a daily routine and work to prepare for and keep you busy throughout the day we can often see a much quicker decline where there is not something else keeping the mind active and the person physically active and busy.

Having a bigger financial burden

A diagnosis of Dementia for someone  that is still working and still has a mortgage to pay can be devastating and bring a big financial (not to mention emotional!) burden that was never expected.

For many, their mortgage is the largest expense and if you are forced to give up work then your finances are bound to be lower. Some will be covered by Income Protection or other insurances which will be welcomed at such a difficult time, but for others the loss of an income due to an inability to work can be devastating.

It may also be the case that a spouse or partner, perhaps even an adult child, has to give up work or reduce their hours to help with the care. This may not be immediate but may be required as the Dementia progresses and as the needs of the person living with Dementia increase. This is something that will need to be carefully planned for as again, this could decrease the household income further.

Having dependents

Those that are diagnosed with young onset Dementia may still have people that rely on them, whether that be children, a spouse or partner, perhaps even their own parents or other loved ones and this can be difficult to navigate following a diagnosis of Dementia when it is inevitable that the care that they themselves will need will increase.

Receiving a diagnosis at any age is not ideal and comes with its challenges at any age BUT don’t forget…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There are places, groups, organisations and people that can help and support you through this, so please reach out.

We would love to hear your thoughts?

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk

Caregivers! You are not alone in feeling…

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Caregivers! You are not alone in feeling...

Dementia is a diagnosis that not only affects the individual with the diagnosis, but affects everyone that is connected with them, both personally and professionally.

As a Caregiver you go through so much and you are not alone…although it may sometimes feels like it!

Here are just some of those feelings that you may go through (some more often than others!) as a Caregiver. There is nothing wrong with feeling any of these and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. 

Always remember to ask for help and support if you need it!

Depression
Guilt
Stress
Anxiety
Social Isolation
Loss
Giving Up Work
Physical Health problems
Loss of Control
Grief
Powerless

We are sure that there are so many other overwhelming feelings and emotions that you go through, as a Caregiver at one time or another, feel free to share these with us and please remember that…

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

What are your thoughts?

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk

Should we be concentrating on PROGNOSIS rather than DIAGNOSIS in Dementia?

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Should we be concentrating on PROGNOSIS rather than DIAGNOSIS in Dementia?

An important question that seems to be coming up ever more frequently is:

Should we be concentrating on prognosis rather than diagnosis?

Let’s start by defining each of those terms…

PROGNOSIS:

Noun

  • the likely course of a medical condition.
  • an opinion, based on medical experience, of the likely course of a medical condition.
  • a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation.

DIAGNOSIS:

Noun
the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.

Thus, it is evident that one clearly focuses on the current situation and issue at hand, whereas the other (prognosis) looks at what that diagnosis means, how it may progress and the likely outcome.

However, before taking such an approach, we need to consider whether we know enough, and can do enough, to give people a prognosis.

If we were able to give individuals a prognosis we have a few things to consider, for example:

Do individuals really want to know their risk factor, or score, when there is currently no known preventable measure, or measures, that can be taken?

Would this cause more harm, especially mentally and emotionally, than good?

Step 1: Identifying Risk

An important consideration here is whether giving someone a risk factor or risk score could make their prognosis worse. If an individual is delivered ‘bad’ news they may then submit to this and be less reluctant to live life to the full or take preventative measures.

In addition, a lot of training would be needed in order that such prognosis and risk scores are delivered and presented in an effective manner – this is unlikely to be something that is practicable within an already under resourced, and stretched, NHS.

Step 2: Tailoring Treatment

Much the same point as before, at the risk of sounding pessimistic, is it a step too far to expect our already overstretched and under resourced NHS to be able to offer customised treatment to each individual?

We are all too well versed with the phrase, “if you have met one person with Dementia, you have met one person with Dementia”, and we know all too well that no two individuals are affected by Dementia in the same way. Dementia is a condition that has over 200 different types (that we know about!) any many different forms, symptoms as well as conditions that accompany it for many individuals. 

A one size fits all approach will not work, but are we really able to offer tailor-made treatment to each individual?

Although this would be amazing, it just seems a bit too far out of reach at the moment.

Whilst, we are also pushing for new treatments and (dare we say) a cure…

Are we really ready for a prognosis?

We would love to hear your thoughts?

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk

Creating a Dementia Friendly Garden

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Creating a Dementia Friendly Garden

A Dementia Friendly Garden is about creating a space that a person living with Dementia can enjoy whilst feeling safe and content.

Being outside and able to enjoy the fresh air can have massive benefits on mental health and wellbeing and having a safe outdoor space of their own to enjoy can help to reduce stress and anxiety as well as giving them a space to enjoy independently, whilst they are able to, or with others.

Some of the things to consider when creating a Dementia Friendly garden, or outside area, are:

Safety First!

Ensuring walkways and areas are as level as possible will help to create a Dementia Friendly Garden to reduce the risk of trips and falls and making it much easier for the individual living with Dementia to move around.

If you do have higher levels or steps, using handrails for extra support and ensuring they are easy to see (and not camouflaged or masked by shrubbery/flowers/bushes) will help to minimise any risk of falls.

You should also be mindful of any slippy services, especially decking when it gets wet (this can be an accident waiting to happen!).

You may also want to consider specialist flooring that is non-slip or even surfaces that provide a softer landing, if a loved one is prone to falls.

Safe & Secure

Ensuring the garden is not only safe but also secure ensures peace of mind for you whilst keeping your loved one safe!

As we know, it is not unusual for our loved ones living with Dementia to get confused and disorientated; ensuring the garden is secure and there is minimal risk of our loved ones leaving without us being made aware is extremely important.

You do not have to use padlocks and treat the garden like a gated prison but you may want to consider secure fencing covered with climbing plants, trellis or other garden ornaments and features that still look pretty and ornate (and can be enjoyed!) but help to protect your loved one.

Take the weight off your feet

Having a lovely garden is brilliant and an outside space for our loved ones to enjoy and spend time in is a bonus whether living with Dementia or not, however seating is a must!

We all need to take the weight off of our feet from time to time and spending time in the garden is no exception.

Having plenty of seating options available is advantageous to all of us, no matter what our age, and means we can spend more time in the garden enjoying our surroundings and breathing in the fresh air!

Bird Song

Encouraging birds and wildlife into the garden can provide a great activity for those living with Dementia (not to mention how calming and relaxing it can be to sit and watch or listen to the birds!).

Other animals that you may want to think about encouraging into the garden are hedgehogs, bugs, butterflies and even frogs.

GET INVOLVED!

Allowing your loved one living with Dementia to get involved in the Garden and Gardening Activities is a great way to spend time outside together and when they are pottering about alone.

Activities in the garden can give someone living with Dementia a sense of purpose and increase their self-esteem and overall mood.

Some activities you may want to consider are; weeding, pruning, planting seeds and vegetables. You may even want to invest in some garden games and activities like a large jenga set, swingball or connect four.

Have you created a Dementia Friendly garden that you could share photographs of, or have you got some of your own tips to share?

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk

Dancing with Dementia

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Dancing with Dementia

If you bring joy to someone living with dementia and you warm their heart, that feeling can live on for them for three whole days.

Claire Kerrigan, Q&A Grandma Remember Me

That really stuck with me, and I knew as an organisation we could give rise to these feelings through creative dance. I had experience of working through dance in care settings and had made a conscious choice, when my aunty was diagnosed with dementia, to invite those living with dementia into our intergenerational classes. However, we had yet to hold a class specifically for those living with dementia until September 2019.

If we did offer classes to those living with dementia, I also wanted to ensure that the carer or loved one was also invited into the space to dance. Here we could create a connection between those two people that they may not have experienced in other activities, especially those in a spouse or family relationship.

Many activities offered to those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia are about recalling memories, a class in reflection to what they may have taken part in as a young adult such as tea dances, partner dances, and ballroom dancing. But that got me thinking, what if someone came to our classes who might have been diagnosed in their thirties? Is pitching our sessions only for the older generation correct in 2019?

Green Candle Dance Company’s ‘Remember to Dance’ report shows growing evidence that regular dance activities can improve and prolong good quality of life for people in different stages of dementia”.

As an organisation, we believed we could excel at supporting those living with dementia as much of our work centres on creative dance.

A note for the reader: creative dance is about offering the dancer room for personal expression.

In our sessions, the dancers are bound by structured tasks, but the meat of the dancing comes from their own movement and ideas. This is why it is so good for the brain, as it is sending signals to both sides of the brain and keeping it active: the analytical left side to make sense and plan out what the next move is and the creative emotional right side.

Back to our studio: Partners of those with dementia were hesitant when they initially came to sessions about creative dance and so were our funding partners the Alzheimer’s Society. They were expecting a tea dance.

We noticed that many partners/carers and loved ones would enter the space seemingly angry or upset. Perhaps due to the journey it had taken to get their loved one to the space and ready for the day ahead had already been testing. We therefore ensured that we welcomed people into our sessions as if we already knew them well; making sure they are well hosted, offered a cuppa, talking to everyone, and saying hello to them individually.

Each time you see someone living with Dementia, it is like they are meeting you for the first time, so introduce yourself to them.

When we move into the actual dance session, we choose tasks which will instantly stimulate the brain, simple things, funny things where the group could have fun together and laugh together and forget about the diagnosis.

Creative tasks help ensure that the person becomes an individual dancer and means that in that space for a time their partner sees the loving husband, or joyful wife, or even a mum with a smile so wide on her face. We believe it helps you remember what those times were like before diagnosis.

I have so many fond memories from these precious sessions, but one of my favourite times was when I was sitting next to a gentleman with dementia whose wife was very disengaged to join in and, as in the week previous, he had therefore not really taken part.

We started by moving the head from side to side and as I got to him, I paused and smiled looking straight into his eyes, he smiled back at me and that’s all it took. The next task came that involved some funky music and shaking of the arms and body and I stood in front of him waving my arms around and being funny; he stood up too and started dancing and I then stepped away for his wife to move in and dance with him. At the end of the session, she said to us that class was absolutely wonderful and it took her back to when they used to dance together in the ballroom (even though they weren’t ballroom dancing) and for that whole class she felt like a wife rather than a carer.

That is what dance can offer!

We know there is currently no cure for all types of dementia, but at the Dance Network Association we truly believe that we can help play a part in improving the lives of people with dementia if they begin or keep dancing.

When you step into our studio you connect to that individual person living with dementia every week and you capture them completely in the movement that you are offering to them. That feeling could stay with them for more than three days.  

At the Dance Network Association, we aim to reduce the need for medication and support the reduction of social isolation (which has so many detrimental health issues) through creative dance.

Due to COVID-19 we have had to put our usual activities on hold to be able to survive during this time. We therefore need your help now more than ever!

We cannot wait to be there for many when this is all over so please give whatever you can to help us carry on our work.

Yes – I’d like to give the gift of love to DNA and ensure it’s there offering great work after COVID-19.

https://www.dancenetworkassociation.org.uk/support-us

Much love

Gems x

A MASSIVE THANK YOU TO GEMMA FROM DANCE NETWORK ASSOCIATION FOR WRITING THIS PIECE!

Contact Details

Gemma Wright Artistic Director of the Dance Network Association (DNA)

gemma@dancenetworkassociation.org.uk

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | You Tube

Pictures courtesy of the Dance Network Association from their programmes Dancing with Dementia and RE:Generation

Can I make a Lasting Power of Attorney after being diagnosed with Dementia?

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Can I make a Lasting Power of Attorney after being diagnosed with Dementia?

As you may know, a Lasting Power of Attorney is put in place so that someone that you trust implicitly (known as Attorneys) can manage your finances & property and/or your health & welfare decisions on your behalf.

A Lasting Power of Attorney must be put in place whilst the Donor (the person giving the Power) has capacity, and a Certificate Provider is required to certify this in order for the Lasting Power of Attorney to be registered by the Office of the Public Guardian.

Once diagnosed with Dementia is it too late to make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Whether a Lasting Power of Attorney can be created and registered after a Dementia diagnosis will depend on how soon the diagnosis takes place and whether that individual has capacity, lucid or ‘good’ days and is still of sound mind.

If the individual still has capacity or has lucid days where they are clear on their finances, current affairs and appear to be unaffected by the Dementia then it may well be that a Lasting Power of Attorney can be prepared at this time and instructions taken from the individual. 

A Certificate Provider will meet with the individual and go through, carefully and sensitively, the current circumstances and ask questions as to that individual’s circumstances and personal affairs, as well as current affairs in the news and media, to ascertain their general capacity and mental wellbeing. If the Certificate Provider is content that the intended Donor has capacity, and they are aware of the importance of the Lasting Power of Attorney and the extent of the Power that they are giving to their Attorneys, then the Lasting Power of Attorney can be applied for and registered.

When registering a Lasting Power of Attorney, it may be necessary to notify people that an application is being made in order to protect the Donor. Notification can be given to up to five people although this cannot be given to those that are being appointed as the Attorneys. This provides extra security for the Donor and allows the person, or people, being notified of the intended registration the opportunity to object to the Power being registered for any of the following reasons:-

  • if they believe that the Donor does not have mental capacity;
  • if the person being notified has a genuine belief that the Donor was under undue pressure to give the Power or is a victim of fraud;
  • if the person being notified has a genuine belief that the Attorney would act in a way that is beyond their powers under the Power or would not be in the best interests of the Donor;
  • if the Donor of the intended Attorney, or Attorneys, have already passed away;
  • if the Donor and intended Attorney were married or in a civil partnership and this has now ended;
  • if the intended Attorney does not have the mental capacity to be appointed as an Attorney;
  • if the Attorney is bankrupt;

Having both Lasting Powers of Attorney in place means that, the Donor is able to appoint the people they know and trust (whilst still of sound mind to make such a decision) to make decisions for them when they are unable to do so for themselves, and takes an unnecessary stress away from both them and their loved ones at, what is already, a difficult time.

We are always happy to have a chat with you about putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, the Powers that are available and whether this is still a viable option for either yourself or a loved one.

If you would like to have a free chat about Lasting Power of Attorneys, please contact us on  info@TotalLegacyCare.co.uk or 01727 865 121

Walking About with Dementia

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Walking About with Dementia:
How can we help?

It is common amongst those with Dementia to ‘Walk About’ or ‘Walk with Purpose’ and in some cases this can lead to the individual leaving their home and putting themselves in danger.

An individual with Dementia may Walk About for a number of reasons, including to relieve stress and boredom or even as a result of anxiety. The walking itself is not usually a problem and we are keen advocates of remaining active after a Dementia diagnosis, however, this needs to be managed to ensure that the individual is not putting their health or their safety at risk.

We try not to use the term ‘Wandering’ as this is quite a dismissive term that suggests that the person that in Wandering has no purpose or is wandering aimlessly and this is often not the case with those with Dementia. Although we, as an outsider, may not immediately see the reason for their Walking About, the individual will have a purpose and a reason for their behaviour but may not be able to communicate this, or may have become disorientated whilst walking, due to their Dementia.

Here we look at some steps that you could take if you find a member of the public Walking About that may be in need of some assistance.

One of the key points to overcome, in a public setting, is (unfortunately) stigma. Some people will ignore the individual with Dementia, or be reluctant to assist, due to their preconceived ideas about what the issue may be or because they do not understand the condition. (This is why we need more Dementia Friends!!!)

However, even for those that do not want to get involved, alerting authorities and the police of a vulnerable person is an easy but very helpful step to take.

If you feel that you able to assist a vulnerable person that appears to be Walking About, then the following tips may help:

Approach the person from the front, so that they are aware that you are approaching them and make yourself known to them.

Consider that they may have hearing issues and so, speak to them closely, without invading their personal space (none of us like our personal space being invaded!)

Try and stay calm and show this with your body language.

Speak slowly and take the time to listen to the individual.

Ask questions in a simple manner and only ask one question at a time. Allow time for the individual to respond.

Try and use non-verbal communication and gestures where appropriate, to simplify your questions or sentence.

Provide reassurance and try to keep the individual calm.

Request assistance from the police when safe and able to do so.

Try to stay with the individual for as long as possible and if possible, until the police or professional help arrives.

One thing that I would always advocate is:

Imagine it was your family member or loved one that had walked in to the local high street, how would you want a member of the public to assist them?
Be that person!

Alzheimer’s Society Helpcards

The Alzheimer’s Society provide FREE helpcards for those living with Dementia to carry around with them, so that it is easier for them to get help when out and about in the Community.

The free cards are a great tool and can be ordered here: 

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/publications-and-factsheets/helpcards

 

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk

A is for Alzheimer’s

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A is for Alzheimer’s
5 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s...
All beginning with A

Here we take a look at five of the early signs of Alzheimer’s and exactly what they mean…

Agnosia is where an individual is unable to recognise familiar objects, tastes, sounds or other sensations.

Amnesia is memory loss.

Anomia is the inability to remember the correct names of things.

Aphasia is where an individual is unable to express themselves through speech.

Apraxia is where an individual does not use an object for it’s correct use as they are unable to identify the object.

It is important to remember that having one, or a couple, of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s and you should always seek professional advice but it is always important to keep an eye on changes and an early diagnosis can be so beneficial for those diagnosed and their loved ones.

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk

RED: The colour saviour for Dementia?

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RED:
The colour saviour for Dementia?

Why is RED such an important colour to use for those living with Dementia?

Red is one of the final colours that a person living with Dementia will be able to see as their eyesight deteriorates and the Dementia progresses.

So, how can this be used when caring for those living with Dementia and why is it important?

Some common things that you may have noticed when caring for someone living with Dementia may be:

  • loss of appetite or eating a lot less than usual;
  • decrease in personal hygiene standards;
  • increase in falls;

One of the reasons that may be contributing to the above issues is COLOUR! It may sound a little strange but bear with us…

If you are eating soft, mostly beige/white foods, from a white/cream plate and are losing your sight, you may well be hungry but unable to see the food you are trying to eat properly.

What about putting that food on to a bright coloured plate, let’s say RED as this is one of the last colours that a person living with Dementia can see, and then put that same food – say mash potato, chicken or pasta – on to that plate. The food is so much easier to see and you may well see an increase in the amount being eaten.

What is the usual colour for bathrooms, toilets and washrooms? White, right?

Well, looking at what we have considered above; consider how daunting this could be to a person living with Dementia? If you are struggling to identify white objects and spatial awareness, then imagine how intimidating your bathroom may seem. Could this be a reason, or at least be contributing to the reason, that there appears to be a decline in your loved one’s personal hygiene?

How about trying to use red towels, red bathroom accessories, a red toilet seat cover and perhaps even a red toothbrush and flanel? This could make a real difference and encourage the person living with Dementia to use these items independently, or with a little assistance, and take care (or assist with) their personal hygiene.

Now, the main reason for falls in those living with Dementia, will not always be down to colour, nor can it be solved just with changing the colour of the walls, but a completely white room with largely white items is not going to be helpful to someone living with Dementia. Think about highlighting key points with bright colour- perhaps around the light switches, so that they can be identified – and adding objects that are brightly coloured to help the person living with Dementia to see these and increase their spatial awareness.

As with all of these tips, these may not work for everyone but it may well be worth a try.

We would love to know your thoughts and hear your experiences!

Do you have an experience you would like to share?

Or, is there a topic you would like us to write about?

Get in touch – Info@DementiaTLC.co.uk