What is Dementia?
Dementia covers a wide range of conditions that cause changes to the brain. These changes can affect memory, how a person thinks, their speech, and the ability to do everyday tasks. When people experience difficulty with memory or feel embarrassed in public when their language slows, it can also lead to increased confusion. Alzheimer’s Disease is probably the best known of these conditions.
48,000 people in Ireland are presently living with dementia and there are the same number again who are affected when you consider how family members have to adjust their own lives. More women than men have been diagnosed with dementia, 30,000 Irish women compared to 18,000 men. While it might be presumed that the reason for this is because women tend to live longer, research is ongoing.
Family members or those diagnosed with the condition should not be afraid to ask for help, more information or support. There was an increase of 20% in the number of calls to the Alzheimer helpline in 2014 which shows that people need more support.
What Happens When Someone Is Diagnosed With Dementia?
It can be quite scary for people coming to terms with a diagnosis or for family members who notice changes in a parent’s behaviour. Many presume that the only option will be nursing home care but that is far from the case. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, together with Home Care companies such as ours at Comfort Keepers, can advise over the phone or in person. Understandably, people may be worried about future care, they may have financial concerns, they may know very little about dementia itself or what happens after diagnosis.
63% of people with dementia live in the community, some live on their own with the help of home carers calling daily. The early and middle stages of dementia can last for many years and it is perfectly possible for people to live in their own homes for many years following a diagnosis. Transport can be an issue, particularly in rural areas, as people lose the ability to drive safely. However, support groups, the community and carers can work together to provide lifts to hobbies, shopping, the library, groups and more.
How Can Home Carers Help?
When you consider that approximately 100,000 people in Ireland are affected by dementia, either as sufferers or as family members, it shows why home care is so important, family members need support with additional care from professional home carers in the form of respite. Caring for someone around the clock can be exhausting and family carers need to take care of their own health too.
Home carers can help with personal care, with companionship, by providing respite, by providing reminders for medication, helping with meal preparation, providing reassurance and support. If you or someone in your family has received a diagnosis or you have decided the time is right to have some home care, do contact your nearest Comfort Keepers office.