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Australian resource for people in the workplace who might encounter individuals with dementia.
Dealing With Dementia
Always identify the name of the person responsible for the topic you are dealing with; this is particularly true for your care plan. If you do not have a care plan seek advice to get one in place.
Always use contact names in communication: Government and Local Authorities do not have voices. A person is interpreting the agreed policy and needs to be identified.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help if the person you are caring for has a problem or gets lost, e.g. they are too long in a public toilet.
Consider locating and joining a supprt group: Remember that no two experiences will be the same: Use the support group to identfy possible coping strategies that work for you at the time.
Live one day at a time. As time goes on the the person with dementia will exist increasingly in the "here and now".
If the individual does not recognise they have a problem when, by whom, and how should the situation be addressed? Seek advice from the GP.
Pre diagnosis: Encourage someone close to seek an assessment/diagnosis. Consider the effects on employment, driving/operating etc.
If suspected beware that currently diagnoses of depression are often made and "treated" long before memory problems become apparent.
Try to notice if there is a change in character and loss of initiative.
Try and remember that most of the abnormal behaviors are a result of the disease, and not the person that you once knew.
When and if a diagnosis is given to you and your potential carer insist that someone has the time to explain the situation fully to you at the time.
Remember when talking to the person living with dementia: don't ask questions; never contradict and they are the expert.
Try to allow the individual as much freedom as possible. If necessary speak with the localshop / store (should be dementia friendly).
Seek property and financial Power of Attorney for when the ability to handle such things becomes impossible safely.
Care funding: Seek advice, what support is available, particularly "for NHS Continuing Health Care".
Ensure a Power of Attorney is in place. If the person with dementia is living alone, a son or daughter can have third party authority on their bank account.
Apply for Attendance Allowance. Once awarded apply for a reduction in council tax.
Contact N-able for free aids at home e.g. Digital clock, photo phone.
Put a large whiteboard up and mark on the days of the week, am and pm - then each week write on all the regular and one off activities. This gives confidence to the loved one.
Put a key safe outside the house for emergency access.
Arrange for a personal alarm for the person with dementia.
As with toddlers, safety issues will need to be addressed as the disease progresses, e.g. hazardous materials secured, exit "locks" considered.
Focus on shopping activities that the loved one will enjoy e.g. Shop for wool if they enjoy crocheting. Remember their food tastes may not be the same as they used to be.
Cinema trips can be difficult, as negotiating slopes in the dark can be challenging for someone living with dementia.
When going out only offer two choices of where to go. If choosing food in a restaurant menus are difficult to deal with. Offer two choices from the menu which they can choose between.
As the disease progresses if the person cannot be left alone consider a person sitting for s hort time to allow the carer to do shopping , hospital appointments etc.
Ask the pharmacy to put tablets into dosset boxes.
Ask for nursing assistance to administer insulin injections.
Arrange for people you trust to help with cleaning, gardening etc.
Put a bar on the telephone to prevent nuisance calls. A BT 6500 phone enables all unwanted calls to be blocked.
Consider if there is a laundry service, should assistance become necessary.
As a carer you must not ignore your own health and welbeing or the disease will claim two lives.
Provide lots of support and encouragement around bathing/showering. Link personal care to a positive activity e.g. Changing bed sheets and then going to the hair dressers.
Ensure chiropody, dental and optician appointments are made for the person living with dementia and that they are accompanied by a carer/family member.
Prompt for teeth and denture cleaning.
Use shower day as the day to provide the person living with dementia with a complete change of clothes.
Join a local group supprtive of those living with dementia e.g. Pabulum cafe, singing group, Norfolk knitters and stitchers, art group etc.
Day centres provide great opportunities for social activity, many provide a good cooked meal and transport, enabling the carer to have some respite.
Generally remember that "what's good for the heart (diet and exercise) is good fot the head/brain. Medical conditions affecting the heart could have an impact on developing a dementia.
Check cupboards and fridge regularly for out of date food.
Make sure that healthy food is put into cupboards and fridge.
Make sure the peson living with dementia drinks plenty of fluids. Always accept a cup of tea, especially if they are making it.
Identify potential care homes for respite/possible full time care.
POA 1 Finanial and property: consider the need for this.
POA 2 Health and Welfare: consider the need for this.
Speak with your GP about a living will whilst you have all your faculties.
As the diseases progresses discuss matters such as Do Not Resusitate (DNR) instructions with family/GP/care staff.
Review your respective wills and property ownership.
Having a Voice
If the person living with dementia is willing to get involved in research projects, take every opportunity for them to have a voice, their insights are invaluable.
When meeting with healthcare professionals never discuss the person living with dementia when they are present, as if they were not in the room.
Never underestimate the ability of the person living with dementia to contribute to a conversation. Remember the person they were before the illness, their knowledge and skills may be undiminished.
Give the person living with dementia opportunities to help others e.g. Although they may no longer be able to read a knitting or crochet pattern, they can still help someone who is learning to knit.
Use a local taxi service, with a regular driver who understands the limitations for the person living with dementia, and arrange for a monthly account.
When travelling by air or train arrange for assisted travel.
Apply for a blue badge for the person living with dementia, they are entitled to one.
Under the 2014 Care Act seek advice on setting up a care plan, day care/respite care: identify suitable places before needed.
Seek out courses for carers.
The little girl in the radiator by Martin Slevin.
Where memories go by Sally Magnusson.
Contented Dementia: A revolutionary way of looking treating dementia: 24 hour wrap around care for lifelong well-being by Oliver James.
Confidence to care by Molly Carpenter.
The Alzheimer's Society also offer a book list - the ones listed above have been read and are recommended.
Mental Health Trust
Establish named points of contact, with whom you can contact to discuss difficult situations.
Try to insist on a dedicated Social Worker with whom you can build up trust and have access to.