Find the answer to some of our most commonly answered questions
Dementia is an umbrella term for a huge range of conditions that affect the brain and cause symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating or managing day to day life. There are over 200 types of dementia although the four most common causes are
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Dementia with Lewy Body’s
People may have more than one type of dementia, most commonly as a combination of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Although the vast majority of causes of dementia cannot be cured, research is continuing into developing drugs and other medical treatments.
There is a lot that can be done to enable someone with dementia to live well with the condition. Care and support should be ‘person-centred’. This means it should be focused on that person and their individual needs and preferences.
There are lots of different symptoms of dementia and some of these can be reduced with medications. It is not uncommon for someone with dementia to also need treatment for depression or anxiety.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy is the only researched and approved non drug therapy to benefit those with dementia. It is usually offered when someone is first diagnosed and is a course of appointments with specially trained facilitators.
People with dementia can experience difficulties with using the toilet. Accidents and incontinence can also cause problems, particularly as their condition progresses. This can be upsetting for the person and for those around them. However, support is available. Talking about it can help to deal with the problem.
If someone is lost or confused they may simply not be able to get to the toilet in time or even still recognise that it is a toilet.
People may be distracted and they may not remember that they need to go to the toilet or stay on it long enough
Some things which may help
- Use regular, gentle reminders to encourage a health toilet routine
- Ensure the toilet area is clear and that there are as few obstacles on the way as possible
- Consider using signs for those who are not able to find their way around the home, or attract their attention to the loo with a brightly coloured seat
- If the person is alone look into technology which can be used to prompt them to go to the loo
- Keep a healthy fluid intake but try and get it earlier in the day so that there isn’t as much needed in the late evening
- GPs are able to refer those that need it to the Continence Advisory service or the District Nurses to start the process of getting pads or products to use.
This very much depends on what has changed - dementia is a progressive condition which means it will change over time.
If the situation has changed suddenly it is always worth discussing the situation with a GP initially to make sure the person is not unwell in some way. If the local mental health team are still involved they will be able to review the situation with you and help come up with a plan for support.
The Memory Navigation Service has dedicated volunteers, support workers and a nurse who can all help you find where to go. You will be able to talk through what difficulties there are and will help make sure you get the help that you need for your individual situation. If you register with the service they can also give you a call every few months to check how things are changing or just be there to listen and advise.
Dementia may mean that someone no longer feels being at home is familiar, they might be missing a sense of familiarity or safety causing them to become distressed. Peoples memory may be better for periods earlier in their life so they could be looking for a home from many years ago.
- Make sure there are familiar items that clearly belong in the person’s home, such as ornaments, photos or other objects. Include things from both the recent past and further back in their lives which may hold positive memories for them
- Have a reminder of the home address, for example ‘This is 23 The Avenue, Windsor’ by the front door or on a whiteboard in the kitchen.
- Talk to the person about the home they used to live in, and what it means for them. It can help them to place it in the past.
- Reassure them that they're safe and secure if they're asking to go home
The number is answered by trained volunteers and dementia support staff. They will be able to listen to your concern or query and direct you to the different services or support you may need. Helping you to find out what groups, support and services you can access in your area and for your individual situation. They can book you onto courses run by either the Alzheimer’s Society or Tibbs Dementia Foundation, or pass you their details so you can contact them yourself. If you are in need of more specialist support we have a Dementia Nurse Specialist working with us, who you can speak to on a Thursday.
My memory has been concerning me. I used to remember all my appointments and I’ve missed a few. I also often can’t remember words and names. What should I do?
There are many reasons that someone might become more forgetful. The first thing you should do is visit your GP and explain the reasons you are concerned. Perhaps write a list of the specific things that have worried you to help you with your appointment.
A carer's assessment is an opportunity to discuss with the local council what support or services you need. The assessment will look at how caring affects your life, including for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring.
There are various groups, activities and events going on across the county. Carers in Bedfordshire provide the Memory Gateways in Bedford, Biggleswade and Houghton Regis, together with various carers groups and other events. If you live in Central Bedfordshire you will be able to access the variety of regular groups run by the Alzheimer’s Society, and if you’re in Bedford Borough there is a wide range of activities run by Tibbs Dementia Foundation.
My loved one was diagnosed two years ago, and we’ve been ok since then, but recently they have deteriorated, things are getting difficult.
The answer to this question varies depending on the individual situation. But the volunteer will be able to talk through things with the caller and make suggestions, possibly passing the caller onto a dementia support worker. The caller may also want to speak to Claire Day, the Dementia Nurse Specialist, who can amongst other things discuss any medication.
You can call us on 0300 111 9090 and register over the phone. Once registered we will send you more details of all our services and carer groups.