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Long Term Conditions:

Dementia

Dementia is a collection of different brain conditions including the commoner Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia which can cause memory problems and affect the way you think, feel, speak, and behave. It can come on at any age but commonest in later life - 60s and beyond. Memory can be often be affected by stress, tiredness, depression or some medications; it isn't always dementia. If you are worried about your memory, come and see one of the GPs. If necessary we can refer you for detailed testing to the Memory Clinic.

Though there is no cure yet for dementia, getting an early diagnosis is important: there are medicines which can help reduce speed of progression and may improve some functioning. Also it allows you to improve your general health, to learn what is available to help you and to plan. With support, many people can lead full and active lives.

Signs which can suggest dementia

Problems with speed and clarity of thought, memory loss (especially short-term memory), difficulty finding common words or names, loss of understanding, poor judgement, difficulties carrying out everyday activities, difficulty controlling emotions.

Read more about the signs and symptoms of dementia

How is dementia diagnosed?

If you are worried about your memory or that of someone else close to you, come and see one of the GPs.

We can carry out a simple screening test. If there are concerns raised we can then refer you. The Memory Clinic, in nearby Fairfield Crescent, will perform some more detailed tests which are explained on their website. First we'll need to arrange some blood tests to rule out other conditions which can cause memory problems.

Dementia is not just one condition

There are several distinct types. Alzheimer's is the commonest (around 60%), usually appearing after the age of 65. Vascular dementia tends to affect the over 65s. Fronto-temporal dementia affects younger people, as does Young Onset Dementia. There is also Lewy body dementia, Alcohol related brain damage, Huntingdon's and Parkinson's and also Mixed dementia.

Read more about the different types and their characteristics and what causes them

What happens if you've been diagnosed

What to ask if you or a loved one is diagnosed


It is important you find out all you can about your condition and how (and when) it might affect you.

  • What type of dementia you have
  • Details about symptoms and how the illness might develop
  • Appropriate treatments you might be offered
  • Care and support services in your area
  • Support groups and voluntary organisations for people with dementia and their families and carers
  • Advocacy services
  • Advice about continuing to drive or your employment if this applies to you
  • Where you can find financial and legal advice - consider Lasting Power of Attorney and Advanced Directives
  • You should also be given written information about dementia.

Admiral Nurse Helpline Tel 0800 888 6678 (free) or email helpline@dementiauk.org
(Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Weekends 9am-5pm)
Admiral Nurses are specialists in Dementia in all its aspects and experts in support and advice and welcome calls about any problem, small or more complex.

Though Brent does not currently have an Admiral Nurse, the Admiral Nurse pages have a great range of articles and videos and a rich leaflet library.

The Alzheimers Society is another fantastic resource and produces an excellent free Dementia Guide.

You may need help with care. Start with an assessment for care and support (and for a carer)

Here is a guide to benefits which may help you pay for care and support.

The Kingsbury Dementia Cafe meets every Wednesday from 2pm – 4pm at St Sebastian & St. Pancras Church Hall, Hay Lane, Kingsbury, NW9 0NG for refreshments, information and activities for those with dementia and carers. Tel 0208 968 8170 for more info

Elders' Voice is a useful local support network.

Treatments

There are some drugs available which may slow the rate of progress and reduce some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's and some other kinds of dementia. Sometimes depression or anxiety may also need treating. Talking therapies can also be useful.

Individual person centred care is important - no one person is alike and tailoring a variety of care to that person's interests and preferences will give the best results.

Complementary therapies

These can sometimes be helpful so always worth trying. Aromatherapy (and sensory gardens) has some early research evidence of effectiveness in helping to calm patients. Dolls or soft toys are often found to be comforting. Stroking an animal may also produce good results. Music is often used as a communication aid - often playing music from an earlier time in the patient's life can be stimulating. Activities such as art, pottery, exercise, singing and dancing are all important to try to keep a person interested and sociable.

Carers

It is vital to look after yourself. Caring for someone with dementia can be very rewarding but may also be extremely demanding, distressing and draining. It can also be emotionally challenging as someone you love changes and becomes dependant and maybe very different from the person they once were.

You will be much more resilient if you keep in good health, ensure you get adequate sleep, eat well, exercise regularly and have programmed time away from your caring duties for yourself.

But you can always benefit from support.

The Alzheimer's Society has useful advice for carers on support they can access. So does Dementia UK

There is a practical Carers' Guide from the Alzheimer's Society

Brent Carers' Centre is a useful contact for local advice and support.

Kingsbury Circle of Carers Support Group meets on the first Thursday of each month at 1 - 2.30pm at Kingsbury Library, 522 Kingsbury Road NW9 9HE

Behaviour changes are often seen in dementia and and this describes what these may be and how you might deal with them.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Dealing with your affairs can get to difficult if you a suffering from a long term condition which is gradually deteriorating. It is a good idea to consider giving someone else - a family member or close friend - the ability to take over if or when it becomes necessary.

If you are 18yr of over and have the mental ability to make financial, property and medical decisions for yourself, you can arrange for someone else to make these decisions for you in the future should the need arise. This legal authority is called "lasting power of attorney" (LPA).

The person who is given power of attorney is known as the "attorney" and must be over 18 years old. You are known as the "donor".

There two types of LPA:

  • Personal welfare LPA (making decisions about daily routines - dressing, washing etc , medical care , moving into a residential or nursing home, life-sustaining treatment such as resuscitation.)
  • Property and financial LPA (making decisions about your money and property, including selling it, paying bills, operating bank accounts, collecting benefits and pensions)
Once the documents are completed you need to register the LPA with the Office of Public Guardian. It can then be used or held ready until needed.

Applying for LPA

It's recommended to do both types of LPA at the same time. You can apply online at Gov.UK and print out the completed forms or completed paper forms which can be printed out of alternatively you can order a pack from

Care planning

You can write an Advance Statement whilst you still have Capacity. This can state your views on how you wish to be cared for, reflecting your religious or spiritual beliefs, where you'd like to be cared for, things you prefer and things you don't like, personal pleasures such as music. It is not legally binding but helps carers.

An Advance Decision can say how you would like to be treated in certain circumstances, such as being fed by tube or resuscitated should the need arise. It can be signed, witnessed and kept in your medical record.

You can construct a Care and Support Plan which sets out how you would like to be cared for. This is done through social services.

A medical care plan can be shared if you wish, using , Coordinate My Care, a secure system which gives access to approved people in hospices, ambulance services, A&E, GP and community teams to ensure that you are looked after in the way you would want and respected for your decisions about such matters as resuscitation. You can start this online yourself or discuss it with your GP.

All about Dementia: information and support including Admiral Nurse Helpline Tel 0800 888 6678
All about Dementia, not just Alzheimer's: information and support including Helpline Tel 0300 222 11 22

Preventing dementia

Although you cannot change your age or genetics some modifiable risk factors include

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of exercise
  • High alcohol intake
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Poor physical health
So keeping fit, having a good diet, keeping your weight down, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake (less than 14 units per week) and treating high blood pressure will all reduce your chances of developing dementia.

Stimulating your brain also helps - such as taking on a new hobby, learning a language, painting, doing regular puzzles, knitting, listening to music or playing an instrument.

In terms of diet, 'good foods' include berries, green leafy and colourful 'rainbow' vegetables, pulses, fish, nuts, olive oil, wholegrains, poultry and small amounts of red wine.
'Bad food' include butter, cheese, fried foods, fast foods, pastries and sweet, red meat

Dementia friendly services

At least one of our patients is a Dementia Friend and has talked to our Patient Group and to the surgery staff to help make our surgery 'Dementia Friendly'. She said, "I became a dementia friend when my husband was first diagnosed and I found it very helpful". She has provided the following useful links to resources.

You can become a Dementia Friend, volunteer as a Champion and help transform the way local services and the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. The site shows local services and contacts and more information about the condition.
Community Action on Dementia - Brent [CAD-Brent] is working towards a dementia friendly Brent, provides a much valued service for the community, particularly their peer support team and the many Dementia Cafes located across the Borough
Disclaimer This website is to inform our patients of our services and provide general educational material concerning health. Any information, opinions, data or images are provided in good faith for the interest and benefit of our patients and not for any commercial gain. We are not offering professional advice concerning the particulars of any individual's health and cannot be responsible for the accuracy of the information presented or the content and reliability of information on linked external sites and request that you make your own judgements and use the information at your own risk. We cannot always keep all the information up to date, though we try our best. If you have any concerns about any of the content on this site, broken links etc please contact us.

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