Discovering that you or somebody you love has developed dementia is one of the toughest times we can face as a human. It signals the end of one part of your life and the beginning another, one in which the very basics of a happy, fulfilled life become tougher to attain.
The stages of dementia go from CDR-0 which shows no impairment to a person’s abilities, through to CDR-3, wherein a person can no longer function without help. In this final stage, extreme memory loss and disorientation are seen, and it becomes impossible to engage in normal, everyday activities and communicate on the same level as your peers. Needless to say, the prospect of this comes as a dreadful shock to anyone who gets the news.
As such, it’s crucial that those people with dementia are given every chance to live a long, happy and dignified life. Part of that comes from expectation management, but the greater part exists in formal dementia care. As the effects of dementia develop in the brain, it becomes difficult and then impossible for a person to look after themselves, so in that respect, dementia care is utterly essential. More than that though, it’s essential in maintaining happiness.
The discovery that a person has dementia can often, naturally, lead to depression. During those days, it’s simply unethical to leave a person to fend for themselves. They’re going through an almost unbelievably tough time, and need both help and care.
Some people choose to care for their friend or family member themselves, though many more rely on formal dementia care from the NHS or other organisations. Inadequate or poor care reduces quality of life and leads to higher overall care costs through earlier admissions to care homes and the knock on health effects that carers deal with. The Alzheimer’s Society call for the following:
- Care provided by dementia-trained staff with access to specialist support. Because dementia patients have problems with communication and behaviour (including physical violence, aggression and delusions), it is important that staff are trained to communicate properly with somebody who has dementia.
- Care designed to meet needs and aspirations. Research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society has shown that being able to remain at home and maintain a good quality of life are priorities for those with dementia and for their carers. As such, dementia care should be designed to fulfil these desires, with regular physical activity and plans to achieve goals built in.
- Care that promotes dignity and maintains human rights. Because of the aforementioned communication issues with dementia patients, staff who aren’t properly trained can provide care which breaches fundamental human rights and fails to treat patients with dignity and respect. Over a third of people with dementia told the Alzheimer’s Society that they were not being treated with dignity or respect, so this should be at the forefront of any care.
- Integrated care. Care for dementia should integrate physical help with social care services to create a more holistic approach to care. This requirement is placed largely on the services and government, but can be applied to individual carers too.