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Dementia Care

Our Dementia Approach

Dementia_LogoWe know that much of your concerns or anxiety is around not knowing what to do when you need help when you are caring for someone who has dementia.

Dementia impacts the whole family, the stress involved in coming to terms with a diagnosis cannot be underestimated.

At Bethanie our staff are trained to be sensitive to this anxiety by valuing the person, ensuring they are an individual and that they look at the care and the needs from the client’s perspective.

Although there are common symptoms of dementia, each individual can be affected in different ways. Most of the literature talks about what a person cannot do when they get a diagnosis of dementia.

At Bethanie we focus on the person and what they can do in a person-centred way.

Person Centred Care

Person-centred care is a multi-dimensional concept, which includes valuing the person, treating them as an individual, looking at their quality of life from their perspective and ensuring there is a social environment where a person can experience some wellbeing.

Person-centred care includes the importance of the family and friends being involved as a care partner. The Bethanie staff understand how important it is to talk to the person and include the family and friends when they plan care now and in the future.

Our Philosophy

Bethanie Model

What is Dementia?

Dementia is the term used to describe the deterioration of brain function that results in symptoms such as;

  • Loss of memory,
  • Reduced language skills,
  • Impaired reasoning,
  • Loss of daily living skills,
  • Changes to behaviour and emotions are also common.

Dementia is not one specific disease. In fact, there are over 100 different types of dementia. The most common types of dementia are;

Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is the most common cause of dementia. During the course of the disease, the chemistry and structure of the brain changes, leading to the death of brain cells

Vascular Dementia

If the oxygen supply to the brain fails, brain cells die. The symptoms of Vascular Dementia can occur either suddenly, following a stroke, or over time, through a series of small strokes.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

This form of dementia gets its name from tiny spherical structures that develop inside nerve cells. Their presence in the brain leads to the degeneration of brain tissue.

Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia

The damage is usually focussed in the frontal part of the brain, a person will have some changes in their personality and thus their behaviour is more affected than memory especially emotions.

Korsakoff Dementia

Is a brain disorder that is usually associated with heavy drinking and substance abuse over a long period of time.

People experience loss of short term memory.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease Dementia

Infectious agents attack the central nervous system and the prions cause the dementia in the brain.

HIV Dementia

Dementia can occur in HIV patients  in the later stages of the disease. For more details call us on 131 151 and ask to speak to our dementia consultant.

Need help?

For more details call us on 131 151 and ask to speak to our dementia consultant.

How can I tell?

Your ability to tell if someone you know or care for has dementia will depend on the type of dementia, and where it is located in the brain. The symptoms may include:

  • Memory loss mainly in the most recent events,
  • Difficulty finding their way around especially when driving or visiting local places they usually know well,
  • Problems finding the correct words or understanding what the other person is saying,
  • Difficulty planning things to do or concentrating,
  • Difficulty learning new skills,
  • Problems with space, perception of colour,
  • Changes in physical ability such as walking, feeding yourself or swallowing,
  • Psychological changes which can mean the person becomes irritable, saying or doing inappropriate things being suspicious or even verbally or physically aggressive.

Need help?

For more details call us on 131 151 and ask to speak to our dementia consultant.

How can I help?

If you are caring for a person who is often pacing and wandering it means that they need space or occupation in a meaningful activity. There are ways in which help can be given to carers to notify them that a person is missing.

If you are concerned about yourself or a relative or a friend seek help as soon as possible. Your doctor will want to exclude other types of diseases or conditions that may produce similar symptoms. At Bethanie we see the person before we see the dementia it’s all about well being, living a fulfilling life that has meaning and purpose it is not about seeing a person as disabled.

An early diagnosis can help you become involved in making decisions, this should not be about you without you. It can also identify sources of support and advice.

Technology Tools

Technology that can help a person living with dementia to stay at home can be accessed through your local Independent Living Centre.

  • Identity Tags – these are simply worn around the neck or the waist they include emergency contact details , name and any allergies,
  • GPS Monitors – these devices are small monitors with a remote location enabling the user to be found or located from areas in the community,
  • Mobile phones – some devices have an app for GPS technology,
  • Watches using satnav technology –with the advancement of technology you can purchase a watch with GPS technology.

Driving Assistance

A diagnosis of dementia does not mean that a person must stop driving immediately. However, it is likely that as dementia progresses, a person will lose their ability to drive safely. You should discuss driving with your doctor, who may refer you to a specialist. Insurance companies require that any condition likely to affect a driver’s ability be disclosed to them. More information is available through your local licencing authority.

Getting a diagnosis of Dementia

Evidence shows it can take up to 3 years to obtain a diagnosis with dementia, however one of the key components of treatment is wellbeing. This is very powerful if a person with dementia seeks help as soon as is possible. For example, if a person with dementia can seek a life that allows their choices, their decisions, enables their freedom, allows their respect and dignity this is very powerful  and is the basis for a person to have a quality of life that enables them to be who they are. For further advice contact the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 or Alzheimer’s Australia for information about the benefits of Memory clinics  and support for you and your family.

Communication

Communication is the most important aspect of care for the person who has dementia. In the early stages some people may struggle to find the right words or mix-up the order of the words whilst they are speaking. As their dementia progresses they may lose track of what they were saying mid-sentence or forget your name or others close to them.

This can be distressing for everyone. The memory loss caused by the dementia can cause frustration for the carer as they have to repeat the same answer repeatedly. It is important not to assume that a person who has dementia cannot notice your mood or does not think or understand, they may not be able to remember what you have said but they will remember how you made them feel. If you lose patience and snap at them they will become anxious, become angry or frightened.

Here are some tips:

  • Reduce noise and distractions such as television or radio when you are speaking with a person,
  • Face the person, never approach and talk from behind, good eye contact is important,
  • Speak clearly using simple short sentences, offering too many choices or asking for complicated decisions is likely to be confusing. For example offer 2 choices. Would you like tea or coffee? Not, what would you like a hot drink?
  • Stop doing other tasks when you are speaking to them,
  • Dementia makes it harder to process information so give the person enough time to respond,
  • If the person asks about someone who has died never remind them that they died years ago, ask them where they think the person has gone and distract them by starting an activity that they enjoy engaging them in something else,
  • As a person who has dementia becomes confused, their reality may be different to yours attempt to enter their world and imagine what they are thinking,
  • Humour can be a great release and help you to feel closer. Try to laugh with the person never laugh at them this is degrading,
  • It can be hard to control your frustration but arguing will make your day more stressful,
  • Always calm down or walk away if you feel frustrated as we all have good and bad days.

Changes in Relationships

Changes in relationships are common when a partner develops dementia .You may find it difficult to cope with the way the person responds to you .Try not to take it personally. Imagine living in a world of not knowing who you are, what is happening and feeling confused, abandoned and frightened. Try to provide answers that are reassuring and calming at that moment. A hug or a gentle touch of a person’s hand is reassuring if a person allows you to do so.

Need help?

For more details call us on 131 151 and ask to speak to our dementia consultant.

How can Bethanie Help?

Help with advance care planning

Advance care planning is about writing down your wishes while you can still say what you want. Talk about what is important, so your family and friends can make decisions about what to do when you no longer can. You also need to tell your health professionals about any plans. It is helpful to discuss any choices with them when putting the plan together. Planning can sometimes be something to do later (“why now?”) or not at all (“it’s not something that I want to talk about”). It does need to be talked about though to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

What is an advance directive?

An advance directive tells medical and healthcare professionals your decisions. It is very similar to an advance care plan. Advance directives can tell the doctors about certain kinds of treatment. This includes treatments that you want or don’t want, no matter how sick you are. This could be antibiotics, fluids or life support. Involving your close family and friends in the discussion means they will know why decisions have been made.

For more details call us on 131 151 and ask to speak to our dementia consultant.

Dementia Resources

iStock_000035294612_Medium-300x200Dementia Awareness Podcasts

Click here to listen to our free podcasts. 

Dementia Consultant Newsletter

Each quarter, Michelle Harris, Bethanie Dementia Consultant releases a Dementia focused newsletter aimed to help raise awareness and more understanding about dementia. This newsletter is also aimed to assist all clients and families to access information from Bethanie Care professionals and more. Click on one of the below links to gain more information, news and helpful articles based around dementia.

 Useful Dementia Links