Supporting a person who is developing dementia – Dementia Action Week 2022


Supporting a person who is developing dementia

One of the biggest questions any family can face is: ‘Does my loved one have dementia?’

You may be asking this question because of reasons including changes in a relative’s memory, because you’ve noticed that they aren’t looking after themselves as well as they used to, or because they are struggling with their normal activities.

With the rise in dementia awareness over the past 10 years, Dementia Action Week is the UK’s yearly awareness-raising campaign, more families are attuned to the possibility of a loved one developing dementia than ever before, but if you are living and breathing this dilemma right now, what should you do?

Recognising the symptoms of dementia

The symptoms of dementia (of which there are numerous different types are many and varied, as detailed here by the Alzheimer’s Society

It’s important to bear in mind that dementia is about more than just memory problems: A person may experience many other challenges, including problems completing usual daily tasks, personality and mood changes, communication difficulties and issues with perception and navigation, to name just a few examples.

Seeking support

If you are concerned that a loved one is developing dementia, it’s important to discuss your worries gently and empathetically with your relative, and (ideally) agree to speak to their GP together. At a GP appointment, the doctor will ask some general health questions and they’ll usually conduct a short memory test. They may then refer your relative to a Memory Clinic (you may wait a while for this appointment), and/or ask for blood tests and a brain scan. Dementia UK have more information on getting a diagnosis.

Whilst you are waiting for an assessment, you may wish to seek support from the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, Dementia Carers Count and the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect Support Line. You may also want to implement some environmental modifications to help your loved one to live as well as possible at home if you’ve identified that they are struggling.

How we can help

At Ashridge Home Care we support people with a huge variety of needs. We offer short term home care to people who have been discharged from hospital whilst they recover, for example after a fall or operation, a few hours of care a day to enable someone to live independently and simply support them with daily errands and personal washing, or 24 hour live-in care for someone diagnosed with a significant illness such as Parkinson’s disease  or following a stroke .

A person we support doesn’t need to be diagnosed with dementia before our carers can make adjustments to their support. If we believe a person will benefit from specialist dementia care we will discuss this with the person (and their family) and provide this support as agreed, regardless of whether the person is diagnosed, awaiting a diagnosis or not wishing to be assessed for dementia.

“Caring for someone with dementia has been an amazing experience. I learn something new almost everyday and not knowing how the day will unfold feels like an adventure!” Betty, carer.

All of our carers are highly trained, and individuals caring for clients with diagnosed or suspected dementia receive additional dementia training which includes everything from being able to identify the early signs of dementia to supporting a person with advanced dementia. Many of our head office team are Dementia Friends, and our founder Trudi passionately believes that everyone has the right to remain in their beloved home for as long as possible with the appropriate support to live their best life.

Our carers are specifically matched to clients, whether the person needing support requires hourly care (our policy is minimum 2-hour visits to ensure meaningful support for each client) or our specialist live-in 24/7 support. Many visiting carers go on to become a client’s live-in carer if the person’s health changes, and this continuity of care makes a huge difference to the lives of the people we support and their families, especially people who are living with cognitive difficulties for whom upheaval can be particularly traumatic.

We believe passionately in person-centred care and enabling vulnerable people to stay in the home they love for as long as possible.

One of the many examples of this is our support for Mr and Mrs Gentle. We cared for Mr Gentle first, during which time Mrs Gentle was fully independent. Mrs Gentle’s health then began to deteriorate shortly before her husband sadly passed away, and we continue to support Mrs Gentle now as she lives with dementia.

Find out more about how Ashridge Home Care could support you or your family by calling 01494 917344 or emailing care@ashridgehomecare.co.uk.