Caring for Patients with Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe symptoms which include gradual memory loss, difficulties in communication and a reduction in logical thinking; people with dementia may have changes in behavior, reversed sleeping patterns, and altered appetite.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and publicised cause, however vascular, Lewy bodies and frontal temporal dementias are also diseases which may lead to these symptoms. As with most diseases we can all reduce our risk by taking exercise, improving our diet, quitting smoking/drinking, and working our brain with puzzles or crosswords.
As a Trust we are working to ensure that patients with dementia are treated with respect and dignity and given the appropriate care. We have champions of elder care across all wards, which ensures continued service improvement for the elderly, and those with dementia. We also have a dedicated Safeguarding team to investigate incidents and protect those who are deemed vulnerable due to their dementia.
In conjunction with local authority agencies, the Trust has the fracture clinic, chestnut unit, clinical decision unit, and the four Health Care of Elderly Wards which have all been awarded ‘Dementia Friendly status’. We continue to strive to ensure these standards are common place. Hundreds of staff from all departments have already undertaken Dementia Friends training.
Dementia is not age specific, but our risk increases as we age, in those under 65 it is often called early-onset dementia. The greatest barrier to research, support, treatments and possible cures for dementia is the perceived stigma; however early diagnosis means better support and treatments. If you feel yourself or a loved one may be showing any signs of dementia, discuss it and seek medical advice. We all forget things so it won’t always mean you have dementia, but talking to someone may give you that peace of mind.
The Trust also operates an open visiting policy allowing someone with dementia to have somebody they know around; potentially reducing anxiety. Please also bring photos or possessions which can orientate or spark conversation, and also ask staff for a ‘Getting to know you leaflet’, these give staff information to form therapeutic relationships much quicker and ensure people’s preferences are met.
We also in conjunction with the Cornwall partnership, run a Memory Café in the Restaurant on level 7 1430-1630, for support and the sharing of experiences.
Links to other helpful dementia and health related sites: