No two people will experience dementia in the same way, a Dublin workshop on Dementia was told yesterday. And while the journey for a carer is very often difficult, there are times when it is amazing, Bernie Byrne, Dementia Champion and Care Manager at Home Instead Senior Care in Ballsbridge told attendees at its ‘Confidence to Care’ workshop.
Home Instead Senior Care is hosting a series of these workshops nationwide, as part of its activities during World Alzheimer’s month. More than 55,000 people across Ireland currently afflicted by the illness, and this number is expected to rise to 113,000 by 2036. Therefore, greater public awareness of the types, symptoms and care options is vital.
‘Every journey is unique’
While there is no definitive cause of Alzheimer’s disease, Bernie said that our changing lifestyles have contributed to the increase of other dementias. “There are about 400 different types of dementias, with the most common being Alzheimer’s,” she explained. “Vascular dementia can occur after someone has suffered a stroke, and this can be linked to one’s lifestyle choices. Lifestyle really matters – living a healthy and more active lifestyle can reduce the risk of most diseases. Participating in cardio-vascular exercises, joining social clubs such as a bridge club, even doing crosswords, can all reduce or delay the risk of developing dementia, or even benefit those who have already got it,” Bernie said.
If there are more than 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland, there are more than 60,000 people who care for them. These can be care professionals such as Home Instead’s CAREGivers, but most often it is a family member, and these workshops are designed to help families cope.
“A dementia diagnosis can be a challenging and frightening thing for everyone involved. Every journey is unique. We hope that, through our expertise in the field, our workshops can help family carers to better understand the disease and develop new approaches and informed strategies in managing that care. It is a progressive disease with both cognitive and behavioural symptoms that will range in severity over time,” said Bernie.
“There can be aggression, anxiety, agitation and even false accusations made by the person with dementia and this can be extremely upsetting for the family. Having some knowledge about the scenarios that trigger such reactions can at least help the family to understand what is happening and at best help them to take steps to prevent them. In fact, there are many things that families can do to make life easier for themselves and their family member with dementia, simple things which cost next to nothing. Greater awareness of the impact of dementias at every stage is crucial and that is what we at Home Instead try to do,” she said.
Home Instead Senior Care Ballsbridge Dementia Champion and Care Manager Bernie Byrne, with General Manager Michael McElligott, at the ‘Confidence to Care’ Dementia Workshop in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, on Wednesday September 5th, 2018.
Create a ‘memory centre’
The workshop also offered the attending families very helpful tips, such as how to create a ‘memory centre’ how visuals will help people to orient themselves around the house, how habit and routine are the keystone to making care work, and how a creative approach can benefit the person with dementia, while also bringing rewards to the carer. “As carers we are the ones with the control over the situation – and there are many things we can do to improve it. It is very important to know what you are doing, and why you are doing it – and our workshops are designed to help families benefit from our expertise,” says Bernie.
This website has a range of resources, and an app full of tips and advice is available for free download on Apple and Android. Workshops are ongoing around the country during the month of September, visit our Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care page to find out more.