52% of the UK public will know someone who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia within their lifetime with 1 in 79 people in the UK living with dementia. Dementia effects millions of people each year, from the person living with dementia to their loved ones. A dementia diagnosis should not mean the end, support is available to ensure that individuals living with dementia, their friends and family can still live a fulfilled and enriching life.
Support for people living with dementia
There is a wealth of specialised resources available to support individuals who are living with dementia, that can assist with the delivery of high quality care and ensure that they are able to stay active, social and mentally engaged. These resources include:
- Dementia-friendly activities – Life shouldn’t stop when you move into a dementia care home. There are all sorts of activities: physical, mental, social and creative that can enrich the lives of those living with dementia.
- Dementia toys – For many people, being able to hold a dementia doll takes them back to a time when they were parents. It’s a natural instinct to cradle a baby and the effect of comforting someone else can also produce positive feelings for the individual themselves. Other toys, such as robotic pets, can produce similar effects.
- Technology – Many care homes have been utilising advanced technological solutions to enhance well-being for those with dementia. Interactive light projectors or ‘Magic Tables’ promote stimulation through specialised games and support physical and social interactions.
- Sensory environments – Appropriate lighting, colour theming, furnishing and signing can be integral in helping people living with dementia to navigate their environment and aid sensory orientation.
- Positive dining – Providing an unrushed and supportive dining experience is crucial. Dining rooms can be designed to better support the needs of residents living with dementia, through adapted crockery, appropriate lighting, colour theming and specialised furniture. Offering the choice of dining alone or in social circles is important to make meal times feel positive.
Dementia support for families
Having a loved one who is living with dementia can be a distressing and emotional experience, family members may require some additional support; especially in cases where they are also caring for the person with dementia.
- Dementia support groups – There are many dementia groups that operate nationally across the UK that offer support and information to family members, such as the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK
- Dementia helplines – The Alzheimer’s Society runs the Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456, with advisers who will listen and give the support you need. Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Helpline (0800 888 6678) will connect you to a dementia specialist with the knowledge to help families manage complex needs.
- Dementia respite care – For relatives who are also caring for someone living with dementia, respite care might ideal if they are in need of a short break. Caring for someone living with dementia can be a rewarding job, but it can take a toll on a carer’s health and well-being, so a temporary reprieve may leave the person feeling refreshed and allow them to attend to their own needs.
- Dementia resources – Dementia is a complicated subject, but there are plenty of resources available that can help with explaining and managing the condition. For example, Visiting Gran’s New Home explains dementia through the story of a child’s first visit to see gran in her new care home. Additional resources can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.
Support for Dementia Carers
Providing care for someone living with dementia is rewarding, but can leave you feeling drained. Carers need support as much as anyone, and looking after your own mental and physical health means you can focus more of your time and energy into properly supporting the person in your care.
- Dementia support groups – These groups are also available for carers. Groups such as Dementia Carers offer resources that can be helpful in developing your knowledge as carer, whereas Carers Support provides emotional support for those who are finding the process of looking after someone with dementia mentally taxing.
- Dementia support services – The Alzheimer’s Society has a great directory for finding local dementia support services near you. This can be really useful if you are looking for information, advice, activities, social groups or even transport.
- Dementia reading – There are plenty of reading resources available to dementia carers that can assist with the delivery of high quality care. Visiting the Memory Café outlines new approaches to person-centred care and activities for people living with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society’s Caring for a person with dementia is a free, practical guide to aid with understanding dementia and developing a care plan for the person you are supporting.