Dementia is a disease of the brain, usually affecting memory, thinking, orientation (knowing where you are), understanding, learning, capacity to make decisions, language and judgement.  It is often associated with problems with emotional control, social behaviour and motivation.

Dementia is an umbrella word for a variety of illnesses that result in a reduction in brain cells due to brain cell death.

There are a lot of names of Dementia related illnesses, there are over 80 listed

Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Frontal Lobe dementia, Multi Infarct dementia, Huntington’s Disease, Lewy Body dementia, Picks disease, CJD, Mixed dementia.

It is important to recognise that although some dementia illnesses may follow a similar pattern, no two people with Dementia are the same or have the same needs. Their needs are related to the design of the person as an individual, their personality, character traits, likes and dislikes, personal and social history.

What are the signs and the symptoms of Dementia?

  • Some or all of the following signs and symptoms may be present:
  • Short term memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of problem solving and sequencing skills
  • Loss of independence
  • Loss of ability to care for own personal hygiene
  • Loss of control over bodily functions
  • Not recognising things for what they really are (misinterpretation)

Assessment for people who are living with Dementia

Dementia is usually diagnosed by the history of the illness, findings from a mental state examination and assessment, and the results of a physical examination.  Once the diagnosis of dementia is established, the following things need to be considered:-

  • Involving the person, their family, friends, and carers (Life story work)
  • People with dementia are usually capable of expressing their needs and wishes through verbal or non verbal communication – the key to person centred care lies in unlocking the meaning behind what the person is trying to communicate to us.
  • Alongside this, their family, friends and carers should be involved to find out additional  information that will help to support and plan care.  This is crucial for life story work.
  • You cannot know everything about a resident that you care for, but learning important facts about people with dementia, it improves the way we care for them.