Dementia Awareness Week – 19-25 May 2013

Talk Dementia

Dementia is something my family are all too familiar with. My Grandad was diagnosed 5 years before he died from an infection that caused blood poisoning. To say those last 5 years of his life were hard is an understatement both for him and us – his family. I loved my Grandad as much as any Grandaughter should and he returned that affection to myself and his 50 other Grandchildren, and I really hated how he had been taken away from us. Looking back I think the last two years of his life were probably the hardest on us all as he had no memory of where he was or who any of us were. He didn’t even really know who my Nanna was even though they had been married for over 50 years. He called my Nanna “Mam” and called out for her all the time if he needed anything. Grandad was disabled from a young age after contracting Polio as a child. But he remained reasonably active until several small strokes left him unable to walk and bed bound.  My Nanna died the year before my Grandad and he was very confused as to where she was and why she didn’t come when he called her, this was very heartbreaking to witness and even more so for my children as they didn’t understand why Grandad was asking for someone who was no longer here. We are still unsure as to why he called her Mam as we don’t know if he thought he was a young child again or other than that she was someone who he could rely on and trusted to help him.
My family aren’t the only ones to have been effected by Dementia either as Matthew’s Grandad also suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. I never met his Grandad as he died before Matthew and I met but from what I have heard he was a lovely man until he became ill. Recently Matthew’s Great Auntie was also diagnosed with Dementia but she sadly died not long after her diagnosis. 
The term ‘dementia’ is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.
Some facts about Dementia:
  • There are about 800,000 people in the UK with dementia.
  • Dementia mainly affects people over the age of 65 and the likelihood increases with age. However, it can affect younger people: there are over 17,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 who have dementia.
  • Dementia can affect men and women.
  • Scientists are investigating the genetic background to dementia. It does appear that in a few rare cases the diseases that cause dementia can be inherited. Some people with a particular genetic make-up have a higher risk than others of developing dementia.

Symptoms of dementia may include the following:
  • Loss of memory − this particularly affects short-term memory, for example forgetting what happened earlier in the day, not being able to recall conversations, being repetitive or forgetting the way home from the shops. Long-term memory is usually still quite good.
  • Mood changes − people with dementia may be withdrawn, sad, frightened or angry about what is happening to them.
  • Communication problems − including problems finding the right words for things, for example describing the function of an item instead of naming it.
In the later stages of dementia, the person affected will have problems carrying out everyday tasks and will become increasingly dependent on other people.

This week is Dementia Awareness Week. You can help raise awareness by joining in the conversation over on Twitter make sure you use the hashtag #talkdementia and help spread the word. Alzheimer’s Society is a registered charity providing support, advice, guidance and resources to both people with dementia and their carers. To find out more visit our website http://www.alzheimers.org.uk

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