Dementia currently affects an estimated 800,000 people in the UK and the number of cases is increasing significantly each year. By 2040 this figure is expected to have doubled. The symptoms of dementia may include memory loss and even difficulties with thinking, talking and problem-solving. According to the Dementia Services Development Centre, the main four problems in Dementia are:
- Impairment of Memory – People with Dementia remember less than 50% of what their doctors tell them in appointments. Therefore it would be recommended for a family member to attend any appointments with the individual effected to make sure all information is remembered.
- Impairment of Learning – When living with Dementia, learning how to do simple tasks or processing new information can become quite difficult. Therefore regular brain training activities will help keep the brain active, making the Dementia much more manageable to live with.
- Increase in Stress – Due to their inability to do what they once found quite easy, people with Dementia can become stressed which makes their diagnosis harder to deal with, potentially causing even more health problems.
- Changes – People with Dementia will experience the normal changes associated with ageing, however they will be less capable to deal with them. Dementia can cause confusion and panic meaning noticing these changes may be magnified significantly, potentially alarming the individual.
After visiting several hospitals and analysing how they deal with patients that have Dementia, the Dementia Services Development Centre produced a list of factors on how to deal with Dementia in hospitals:
- Ensure all pathways and corridors are clear – Around 35% of over 65’s will fall in a year, rising approximately to 50% for those aged 80 and over. These statistics show how vulnerable elderly people are, especially when they are in an unfamiliar environment. Ensure there is nothing that could cause a potentially life threatening fall.
- Involve Family – If the patient wishes to leave their bed and go for a walk, let them. Allow their family to escort them, not only will it allow them to build on their relationship but it will also relieve any stress the patient may be feeling by getting them away from their bed. Family members could also help with dinner times to ensure the patient has their nutrients and liquids.
- Training for Staff – Giving nursing staff additional training to deal with fragile elders could make a world of difference. Nurses are not automatically trained to deal with these type of patients, therefore having that extra knowledge could improve patient’s safety in the hospital significantly.
- Routine is Essential – When living with Dementia routine is essential, therefore having meal times at a set time every day is important. Also don’t move beds or furniture around the ward because it can cause confusion, Dementia patients like everything to be in one place and don’t react well to change.
To find out more on Dementia please visit the Dementia Services Development Centre website for further information and guidance.