Caring for residents with dementia

Caring for residents with dementia

Dementia is the leading cause of disability and dependency among the elderly.  Globally, the number of people living with dementia will increase from 50 million, in 2018, to 152 million in 2050. That’s an increase of 204%.

Dementia is a collective name for progressive brain syndromes – there are over 100, including vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and fronto-temporal dementia – all of which affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Symptoms may include:

  • Memory loss
  • Problems with language
  • Regularly misplacing items or putting them in odd places.
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks, such as getting dressed
  • Getting lost, confused or unsure of location
  • Impaired judgement
  • Changes in mood or behaviour

Although each person will experience dementia in their own way, eventually those affected are unable to care for themselves and need help with all aspects of daily life.

According to Alzheimer’s research UK, the prevalence of dementia in care homes rose from 56% in 2002 to 70% in 2013. Going to a dementia care home is still seen by many as the only viable option for later life care, especially when dealing with a condition such as dementia.  While there are many care homes that provide specialist dementia care, we do not to take new residents who are already in the later stages of dementia and may be unable to cope with the change in surroundings.

So what happens if your loved one develops symptoms of dementia while in our care?

Firstly, don’t panic! We understand that someone who is in the early stages of dementia may still be making sense of their condition and that moving to a new setting would be disturbing and ultimately counter-productive. Instead, our aim is to make them feel comfortable and safe in surroundings that are already familiar. Each of our 31 bright, sunny bedrooms is individually decorated and we encourage residents to personalise them with their own furniture and treasured possessions, especially photographs and pictures.

Birchwood House staff are specially trained in caring for people with dementia and are on hand 24 hours a day.  Manager, Helen explains: “Birchwood House really is a home-from-home and the care we give is warm, friendly and professional. Where possible, we work with residents’ families to ensure we have photos of loved ones – as this really helps with visits from family and friends. We also work closely with multi-disciplinary teams – Highland House, Darenth Hospital and local GPs, to ensure our residents have access to all the right resources once a diagnosis of dementia has been made.”

Dementia often develops slowly and is not always obvious in the early stages. If you are experiencing any symptoms, or are concerned about a friend or relative, visit your doctor and discuss your concerns.

We care deeply about our resident’s mental health here at Birchwood House. Learn more in our blog about protecting the mental well-being of the elderly during the pandemic.

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