Understanding and recognising the early signs of dementia as you and your loved ones age is important – more than 800,000 people in the UK have dementia, and as people continue to live longer, that number is set to rise.
The early signs of dementia often appear around the age of 65, and typically begin with forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating and struggling to find the right words when having a conversation. Rather than a disease, dementia is used as an umbrella term to characterise a group of symptoms that affect the brain.
Memory loss and occasional difficulty concentrating is a normal part of the ageing process, but if you are noticing other persistent changes in yourself or your loved ones, speak to a doctor. Early diagnosis can mean you get the treatment and support you need to continue leading a full and fulfilling life.
If you or someone you love has received a diagnosis of dementia you may have questions and concerns about what to do next. In addition to the support you receive from your GP, the internet is an excellent resource to help answer your questions, find tools and connect with others who have already had an experience with dementia and can help you with everyday challenges.
You can find practical information about what dementia is, how to recognise it and what to do if you know someone who has dementia from trusted sources like the NHS – this useful guide provides a brief overview of dementia, and provides plenty of links for further reading if you are looking for more detailed information.
Age UK is also an excellent place to look for more information. From the website you can find the charity’s dementia guide, which offers tools about how to fight dementia, and has first hand accounts of what it’s like to live with dementia and care for someone else who has it.
The Alzheimer’s Society has also put together a fact sheet to download that covers many of the common questions and concerns about dementia. From the site you can also find an audio version, which can be particularly useful if you find reading from a screen for long periods of time is tiring for your eyes. The website also covers topics like helping families living with dementia, training, caring for a loved one and caring for yourself.
If caring for a loved one with dementia becomes too difficult for you to do at home, you may begin to consider other options like hiring a full time carer or moving into a home that has been specially equipped to help residents with dementia. These can be arranged independently, or by your local authority, so it’s important to do your research to find out what’s best for your loved ones.
The NHS has put together a guide about dementia care homes to help you understand when they might be appropriate, what your options are and how they work. The website also has a directory of homes, to help you find what’s available in your area.
From the Alzheimer’s Society website you can learn more about the different types of care homes and what they offer. The guide is available for download and also answers questions like how to recognise a high quality care home and choose the one that’s best suited to your situation.
If you choose to go private and arrange a care home independently, private healthcare providers are also a good source of information. You can find out more about the services they offer as well as what you’ll be expected to pay and what benefits choosing a private care home can offer. Websites like team 24 private care nursing and Bupa health offer just two examples of the options available if you choose to go private.
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