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Dementia: what it is, and how to care for someone living with the condition

PUBLISHED: 16:53 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:20 03 June 2019

There are a variety of support and care services for those with dementia. Picture: Tapestry

There are a variety of support and care services for those with dementia. Picture: Tapestry

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We take a look at what dementia is, how it affects people, and how to care for someone with the condition.

Tapestry's homecare team provide support 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Picture: TapestryTapestry's homecare team provide support 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Picture: Tapestry

One in six people over the age of 80 have dementia. If you, or anyone you know has recently been diagnosed you may want to know more about what dementia actually is, the symptoms, or how to care for someone living with dementia.

Here, Stuart Robinson, head of operations at Havering care provider Tapestry, looks at what dementia is, how it affects those who have it, and how to care for someone with the condition.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a term used to describe an ongoing decline of brain functioning. It can affect a person at any age, but people over the age of 65 are most commonly diagnosed. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. At present, there isn't a cure.

Tapestry have two hubs, located in south and north Havering. Picture: TapestryTapestry have two hubs, located in south and north Havering. Picture: Tapestry

How does dementia affect people and their carers?

Dementia can affect all aspects of a person's life. Often, memory loss is the first symptom. Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging and can lead to dementia carers overlooking their own needs. If a loved one is diagnosed you may find yourself experiencing a range of emotions, such as guilt, anger, confusion or upset. Tapestry is on hand to give you support, advice and information.

What do people living with dementia need?

Dementia can cause people to feel disorientated and confused. Day care services can be beneficial to both the person living with dementia, and their loved ones. Tapestry run day care services at two community hubs in Havering. They are fully accessible and open to the whole community. You can find out more about their day care services here.

Is a care home the best option for people who have dementia?

Tapestry provides care services to enable people to continue to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. In the early stages, many people live as they did prior to their diagnosis, with aids such as dementia day clocks, alarmed medication boxes, monitoring systems and fall alarms. As the illness progresses and symptoms get worse, many people struggle to look after themselves and their home. Tapestry can provide support and advice at this stage to explore options and what help is available with regards to funding.

Are dementia care homes expensive?

Care home costs vary depending on the amount of care required. You may be able to get some help with the cost from the local council or, in some circumstances, the NHS.

How can Tapestry help if myself, or a loved one, has dementia?

Their homecare team provide emotional and practical support to people in their homes and are available from 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Their carers provide not only personal care needs and medication support, but also much needed companionship and company.

Tapestry's community hubs are a fantastic way for people living with dementia to socialise and to allow their carers some much-needed respite. Tapestry has created a sensory room at its hub in Hornchurch, Stuart said: "The sensory room provides comfort and stimulation, it's relaxing and meaningful, and it helps to build self-esteem." He added: "This year, Tapestry is celebrating 70 years of working with older adults in Havering." You can look at their timeline here for more info.

During 2019 Tapestry will launch their dementia-friendly cinema. It will be much quieter than standard cinemas, to support the needs of those living with dementia. They're also opening a 'Pub Pod', which will look and feel like a pub and play music from the 50s to 70s, to allow people to reminisce, while also socialising with peers, carers and other members of the community.

Visit tapestry-uk.org or call 01708 796600 for more information.

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