Living with dementia
Posted on 15th August 2018 at 13:05
Those of us currently leading active, healthy lives can look forward to living for many more years than earlier generations.
However, the Alzheimer’s Society has recently published figures showing the number of people living with dementia will more than double in the coming decades, partly because we are all living longer.
In our region* there are currently over 8,000 people living with dementia – a figure which could rise to 32,000 by 2050.
For now, it might be tempting to push aside the fact that we might one day have this condition.
What is dementia?
Most of us know that dementia is much more common in older people, but it isn’t part of ageing. In fact, almost 5% of people with dementia are under 65.
Alzheimer’s is the best-known example, but dementia is a collection of diseases that affect the brain.
Everyone experiences dementia in a different way; it’s not simply loss of memory. Symptoms can also affect your behaviour, speech and your ability to understand information or to complete simple tasks.
It’s a common myth that people with dementia don’t know what they want. In many cases they are very clear about their wishes but have difficulty in communicating them to others.
If you are having problems with your memory they could be due to another medical condition, depression, anxiety, thyroid problems or the side-effects of medication.
Some people will avoid going to their doctor because they are worried about what a diagnosis of dementia could mean. However, an early diagnosis is really important, along with helpful advice and support. This will help you to enjoy the best possible quality of life and to plan for the future.
Feeling in control
When you and your carers are living with dementia it’s important to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
This can include strategies to deal with the most common challenges, whether that’s remembering someone’s name or finding where the tea bags are kept in the kitchen.
As your condition progresses you might need extra help for day-to-day living and to enjoy your social life.
The Alzheimer’s Society provides advice on other things you might like to consider too.
You can make an advance statement that describes your wishes and preferences for your care in the future. This can include your favourite foods, hobbies and interests, or where you would like to live; even your favourite music or films.
You can also put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney so that, if you should ever find that you are unable to make important decisions, people that you know and trust can do this for you.
You can write a will to be sure that the right people receive your bequests when you die.
You can also plan all the details of your own funeral and, if you wish, cover the costs in advance with a pre-paid funeral plan.
*NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group
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