What is dementia, how many types are there and does everyone get affected in the same way?
Dementia is not a specific disease. Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills that are severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks, as brain cells stop working properly.
This happens inside specific areas of the brain, which can affect how you think, remember and communicate. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but there are other types of dementia too. It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimer’s is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You may hear this called ‘mixed dementia’.
Every person is unique and dementia affects people differently – no two people will have symptoms that develop in the exactly same way. dementias unfortunately are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse. If you or someone you know is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, please don’t ignore them. Seek a doctor’s opinion soon, as they will help to determine the cause.
Being diagnosed with dementia is something that a family would always remember.
Philomena was diagnosed with dementia 17th February 2016 – a date that her family would never forget. She currently lives alone with the support of her Home Instead carers, and her two daughters to help her with her medication, ironing, shopping and meal preparation.
Once a month Philomena and Kim (her daughter) used to attend a dementia cafe in Bishops Stortford, run by The Alzheimer’s Society, which they both thoroughly enjoyed, but unfortunately it got shut down.
With the worry of Philomena not being able to have some social interaction, they got referred to a dementia hub in Sawbridgeworth by Hertswise.
” Hertswise run such an invaluable service that has been great not just for my mum but for me too!” – Kim, Philomena’s Daughter
Ever since her first session, Philomena has enjoyed every moment of it “There is just so much to do and many opportunities to join in with things.”
With Philomena’s dementia getting progressively worse, she has been every so thankful for the opportunity to join a hub that is welcoming and helps her engage more in the activities.
“At home she now always talks to her carers and her cleaner about the things she does at the hub, and shows them what she makes – thus allowing her to have social interaction with them too.” – Kim, Philomena’s Daughter
If you would like some more information regarding one of our hubs please contact Herts Help on: 0300 123 4044
Living with Dementia doesn’t have to be lonely, as Bob found out at one of the Hertswise Hub.
Bob used to attend the Early Memory Diagnosis and Support Service after being diagnosed with unspecified dementia in 2009 and Alzheimer’s Disease in 2015. Although his dementia has been slow in progression, due to his good level of physical and mental activity, he was referred to Hertswise to help him more with his social interaction and how to maintain his independence.
Hertswise hubs offer a sense of community among local people affected by dementia, as well as access to information, support and a variety activities based on the needs and interests of attendees. Bob was reluctant to attend the hub at first as he said: “Won’t they just be full of old fogies who will be much too ancient for me”, but then his daughter Ruth rang Hertswise to find out some more information about the hubs that they run.
“If I didn’t come to the hub I would miss the interaction and especially the locality workers who are diamonds in the pack.”
– Bob, Hertswise Hub Attendee
Ruth got in contact with one of the support workers, Hollie, who arranged a pre-visit with Bob to discuss the support on offer and what they do at the weekly hub at All Saints Church. Since speaking with Hollie, Bob started to attend the hubs every other week, and has been attending since July 2018. He has said: ” The best thing about going to the hub is that I like to sit back and watch the interaction between the various age groups, when ordinarily they might not cross paths outside of the group.”
Ruth has since seen a brighter side to her father and says: “He enjoys the variety of events that Hertswise organise, particularly musical ones, as well as mixing with the varied attendees at the group, where he has made such great friends.”
Bob is now able to maintain his independence, as he arrives to the hub on his own and actively takes part in his local arts group where he utilises his architect skills to draw portraits on his iPad.