This week (15-21 May) is Dementia Action Week – an awareness raising campaign run by the Alzheimer’s Society. The goal is to increase diagnosis rates for dementia, and fight the misconception that memory loss comes naturally with age. It is certainly better to know, and have the right support and resources.
Raising Awareness About Dementia
Recently, the dementia diagnosis rates have dropped for the first time ever. That’s why Dementia Action Week is so important: the more awareness is raised about the symptoms of dementia, the more people can be diagnosed and given the support they need.
Healthcare professionals at the Alzheimer’s Society have created a Symptoms Checklist, based on significant research, intended to help people to understand the first signs of dementia, and get help. It is endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and it can be a very useful and easy way for families and loved ones who may be experiencing dementia, to track and express their potential symptoms.
Some of the early symptoms that you can look out for are:
- Memory loss (this can be forgetting names and recent events)
- The inability to keep track of the date and time
- Repeating phrases, or asking the same question over again
- Forgetting where household items are usually stored
- Forgetting common words
- Daily tasks such as shopping and paying bills becoming difficult
- Increased irritability, aggression, and becoming easily upset
- Acting inappropriately, or unusually
- Restlessness, and wandering around
You can download the Symptoms Checklist from the Alzheimer’s Society website.
The Importance of Increasing Diagnosis Rates
It can be overwhelming to experience a diagnosis of dementia, and research by the Alzheimer’s Society shows that denial is one reason that people aren’t seeking help. But as Dementia Action Week 2023 is setting out to show, once a person with dementia has a diagnosis, support will be provided. And 91% of people affected by dementia agree that it’s better to know.
There are many different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, so it is important to know which specific type you are dealing with as each will have varying symptoms and progression rates. For some types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, doctors can offer both drug and nondrug interventions to reduce symptoms (these may decrease at the rate in which memory and cognitive abilities are lost).
Once a diagnosis is made, efforts to make living arrangements safer, and plan for the future, can begin. Changes may need to be made to daily routines, and activities, to create a safer and more dementia friendly environment, which can ease difficulties that may arise. Person-centred dementia care means that each individual’s unique needs are taken into account.
Finding Guidance and Support
Another aim of Dementia Action Week is to highlight the guidance and support that is available. If you are concerned that yourself, or a loved one, may be experiencing the early signs of dementia, there are many options for immediate help and support. You can contact the Alzheimer’s Society, or make an appointment with your GP to find out the next steps and organise a test.
Guidance and support are also available at B&M Care. We offer Discovery Events which aim to educate the public about dementia – both scientifically, and practically.
- Our Virtual Dementia Tour offers you the chance to experience the physical and cognitive challenges that an individual living with dementia faces every day, using advanced technology to alter your senses. This is a very valuable exercise for those that either work as carers (which is why we encourage our care home staff to experience this), and for those who are caring for a loved one living with dementia at home.
- We also run Living Well with Dementia seminars which are informative presentations where the public has the chance to learn about dementia from our experts, and learn how best to provide care.
There are lots of things you can do to support Dementia Action Week 2023, and to find out more about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia:
Learning about dementia
- Download the Alzheimer’s Society Symptoms Checklist
- Book a place on a Virtual Dementia Tour or Living With Dementia seminar - check our Events page to see what’s coming up
- Share Dementia Action Week resources on social media
At B&M Care we are always happy to answer any questions and provide help and guidance to those who need it, to support the community. You can call or write to us, or visit any of our local care homes.