Do you have a relative who has recently been diagnosed with a dementia? If so, you may be wondering what changes you may be facing and how your daily life will be affected. Most of our staff at Activities to Share have first-hand experience of either relatives, or have cared for people with a dementia. Here they share their personal stories for you:
‘My Grandad was diagnosed with a dementia around two years ago. He often gets confused and will get things wrong. One of my relatives tried to correct him but he found this stressful and so I found it better to just go along with what he said. He still has a great sense of humour and we often share long-standing jokes. I feel it is better to try to laugh about things with him and keep a positive attitude.’
‘During my time working as a Domiciliary Carer, I often helped care for people who had a dementia. One lady of 87 was still able to live at home. She would often repeat herself saying things like ‘Not bad for an old ‘gal am I?’ I was always struck by how cheerful she was, even if she couldn’t do something herself, she would laugh and say ‘Silly old me!’ Another lady of a similar age with Alzheimer’s disease lived with her husband, but was constantly agitated and walked around the house looking for him (even though he was there all the time). I found a reminiscence book very helpful, she liked looking at old adverts from the 1950s and it got her sitting down calmly for a short while.’
‘My dad had a dementia. When smiles were few and far between, it was my cat that brought most comfort to dad. He would sit in the armchair and stroke her for hours. Music was another source of pleasure. We would put on the CD and sing together and this gave my mum a chance to catch up with her jobs. He also liked helping with household chores, wanting to feel useful, he would help peeling spuds, sorting socks or drying up the dishes. This helped provide dad with a sense of security and normality.’
‘My Grandmother’s dementia caused her personality to change. She went from being a very easy-going gentle lady to becoming quite snappy and moody. She would often do strange things like cutting her nails and keeping them all in a jar! One positive thing was that she really enjoyed all aspects of food and continued to have a really good appetite right through.’
‘Dementia affected two of my relatives. My mum had Vascular Dementia which affected her memory badly to the effect that she didn’t recognise my dad, something he found very upsetting. She would often have violent outbursts and slam things down in a temper. My grandmother was also affected, I remember as a child hearing her keep repeating the same sentences. She would also wrap things up in bits of tissue paper. She loved music though and really enjoyed having a sing along with the family.
Our stories show how people with a dementia can vary greatly in ability and we realise that there are no ‘quick fix solutions’ , however we feel our 15 years of experience help us to understand the problems people face. Our time spent at the Alzheimer’s Show recently confirmed this by the conversations we had with so many Activity Coordinators, NHS workers and carers. Our products are designed to complement the good care already in place, maybe helping dementia patients to connect with their carers or relatives, even maybe trigger a conversation or enjoy singing together. Sometimes they are invaluable to engage a loved one for a few minutes, enough time to give their cares a much-needed breather.
These are our experiences, we hope they are helpful. Do you have a similar experience you could share to help others in a similar situation. If so we would love to hear from you...