Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Worried about dementia?

Given that over 80,000 people in Scotland are living with dementia and that one in three people over 65 will die with dementia, I wonder why we are so reluctant to talk about it? Isn't it a worry that we spend eight times less on dementia research than cancer research and yet 40% of dementia patients are in long stay care settings often at huge cost to the public purse.

It reminds me of how we used to see cancer patients and palliative care. No one really spoke about it apart from in hushed tones. Often the person with the illness didn't know what was wrong with them or if they did they thought the worse but weren't given the right information. How far we have come in dealing with cancer. 

I am delighted that there is now a national dementia strategy and that the Scottish government appear to be taking this condition seriously. Hopefully things will change.

What is dementia?
Dementia is the progressive loss of power of the brain. There are many different types but the most common is Alzheimer's disease.

What are the symptoms?
Every person with dementia is different and how their illness affects them can depend on which areas of the brain are most damaged.

One of the most common symptoms if memory loss. It is important to remember that everyone forgets things sometimes!!!!!
However a person with dementia may forget the names of family members, or forget to turn the oven off. They may repeat the same question over and over and not know they are doing it. People with dementia may lose their sense of time, or awareness of which day it is.

Solving problems with dementia can be difficult and this can come across as confusion.
dementia can also affect personality and behaviour as well.

All of these symptoms can be very worrying and frustrating for you and your family.

Help is out there.
It is important to seek help early on. The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the better able we are to start planning for the future and accessing services, treatment and help and support. Medical treatments are available which may help some people and research is progressing all the time.
I was lucky enough to attend a training session last week with speakers from Alzheimer Scotland, and was really impressed with the work this organisation are doing. They offer loads of practical help and guidance for dementia patients, their friends and family including; understanding dementia, getting help with benefits and accessing community care.

If you are worried about your memory or that of a family member or friend, Alzheimer Scotland has a free 24 hour helpline 0808 808 300

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