Updated: Nov 15, 2019
As a previous support worker, alongside elderly and disabled people, I cared for people living with various forms of dementia in their own homes and within a care home. I witnessed the challenges faced by families and saw for myself how the condition can affect a person as an individual. Listening Touch Therapies includes and welcomes people with dementia. Therapeutic touch in the form of a hand or foot massage can bring many benefits such as reduced anxiety.
It is important to remember that dementia affects everyone in different ways and at different times, therefore this service may not always be wanted or appropriate for them. Therefore, I come with a flexible approach, a cup of tea, a natter and some human company can also be supportive and reassuring and uplifting after all, people with dementia are exactly that, ‘people’ and the approach to caring for them should be individualised and unique as much as they are.
To further expand my own knowledge on dementia, today I attended a free workshop provided by Guideposts Oxfordshire and funded by Oxfordshire County Council, on ‘Understanding the experiences of people living with dementia’. An informative and often moving session which gave me reassurance that I already had good prior knowledge but also gave me the incentive to go on and learn more. I believe that my early years training in ‘inclusion, equality and diversity’ and ‘special educational needs and/or disabilities’ has proved to be transferable to this area and extremely valuable. Techniques used to support children with special needs such as descriptive commentary can be used to help with the anxiety and embarrassment of memory loss.
Another transferable resource is to use visual timetables to support the understanding of the routine, concept of time and forward planning through 'then, now and next' picture cards can be a great way to support a loved one with dementia. These should be made using actual photographs of the environment they will be in and objects they will be used rather than purchased 'off the peg' resources which will also cost you the earth! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on these.
Did you know that dementia is not a disease itself, but an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by disease? Today I learned that there are over 200 sub-types of dementia (Dementia UK 2019) with the five most common being;
· Alzheimer’s disease
· Vascular dementia
· Frontotemporal dementia
· Dementia with Lewy bodies
· Mixed dementia
Statistics show that there are currently known to be over 850,000 people in the UK living with a form of dementia. This statistic is predicted to rise to over one million by 2021. It is possible that the rise is caused by better systems for diagnosis, people living longer.
Dementia can affect anyone at any age, although more likely over the age of 65. When dementia is diagnosed below this age it is called Young inset dementia. Read more about dementia from Dementia UK here.
Within my home county of Oxfordshire, we are fortunate to have several charities and support networks available to people with dementia, their families, carers and professionals. Dementia Oxfordshire is a partnership between three local charities, Age UK Oxfordshire, YoungDementia UK and Guideposts Trust These charities work together to provide specialist support services to people of all ages.
Through Listening Touch Therapies, I have offered (within a limited number) of my services free to local nursing and residential homes on a slotted time each month. Not only will this broaden my own experience but more importantly it will bring benefit to people most in need, some of which may have dementia.