What is Dementia?
The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.
These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they have become severe enough to affect daily life.
A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but not the only one.
The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
If you are caring for someone with dementia, you may want or need support at some point.
Carers who have less support are more likely to experience stress and depression. If you don’t have friends or family who can help, or you are struggling to take a break, there are a number of organisations that help.
These include voluntary organisations, health and social care professionals and local authorities. You might need different types of help and support at different times. Not every type suits every carer and there may be an element of trial and error in finding the right services for you.
Types of support include:
- GPs, counsellors and other health professionals (eg dementia specialist nurse, occupational therapist) – these can offer support as well as advise on medical issues.
- Local support groups – these are available in many areas and are a good source of information. You will be able to talk to people in a similar situation and share ideas, tips and strategies about caring. Use service finder to find local support groups near you, or see ‘Other resources’ for more people you can contact.
- Online discussion forums – these can also be helpful and may offer practical suggestions, or simply a place where you can let off steam after a difficult day. You can access them at any time. You could try Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Talking Point, or Carers UK also run a number of forums.
- Information – there is lots of information available on all aspects of caring. This can help if you are struggling with anything from financial issues and activities to depression or eating.
- Adaptations to the home – you may be able to make improvements to your home that make life easier for the person you care for. This in turn could make things easier for you. These adaptations could improve a person’s mobility or help them to maintain their independence. For more see our blog: 10 ways to make your home dementia friendly.