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Busting Myths Of Dementia

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

In support of dementia action week this week Vicki Pearce from our Court of Protection team highlights some of the myths about #Dementia  

Myth: “Dementia is when a person just loses their memory”

 Dementia is more than memory issues.  People with dementia experience difficulties with:

  • Doing things
  • Thinking
  • Communication
  • Memory

These problems are interwoven causing confusion and difficulty with every day living.

Having dementia can mean that it becomes harder to remember what has happened recently; becomes difficult to learn new things and memories from the past can become more “real” as difficulties increase.

Lifetime memories build up and are stored but dementia makes it harder for these memories to be organised and accessed.

Difficulties with thinking can mean that it becomes hard to work out how to do every day tasks; difficult to concentrate and focus on tasks and lose track of what the person is doing.

Myth: “Getting older means you will get dementia”

It is not an inevitable part of aging.  Dementia is a result of brain cells being damaged by a disease (sometimes referred to as types of dementia) such as:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Vascular dementia
  • Mixed dementia
  • Lewy body
  • Fronto temporal
  • Parkinson’s
  • Huntingdon’s
  • CJD
  • Aids
  • Korsakoffs

Diagnosing the type of dementia can be difficult but tests such as:

  • Mini mental tests
  • Scans
  • Personal history

– can all help.

Diagnosing the type of dementia is important because:

  • There may be medications that can help. Some medications may slow down the cause of the Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It can help with the awareness of the progression of the disease for the patient and the family
  • It can help family members if the disease is genetic.

Myth: “Having dementia will mean you have to go into a home”

A person with dementia will almost certainly need increased support but many people remain living at home or in the community with dementia.  This can be achieved by supporting a person with dementia by:

  • Involving the person about all care decisions
  • Taking the time to listen to them
  • Show kindness, reassurance, tolerance and respect
  • Use short sentences
  • Give time for the person to respond and then rephrase or repeat if necessary
  • Do not argue about facts or try to correct
  • Use eye contact and gestures or symbols.

Myth: “Having dementia means you no longer have capacity”

No.  I feel very strongly about this one!

Just because somebody has dementia does not mean that they do not have capacity.  Very rarely do people lose capacity completely.

Capacity is both issue and time specific.

The question should not be whether someone has capacity but whether that person has capacity to make that particular decision at that particular time.

A person with dementia may have capacity to make some decisions but not others and it is always important to help them make as many decisions as they can.  For example, a person with dementia may be able to still do their weekly shopping but not know how to cancel a direct debit.

Myth: “You cannot prepare for dementia”

There are several studies to suggest that you can stave off or slow down dementia such as:

  • Living a healthy lifestyle
  • Keeping your brain active by doing crosswords and keeping your brain stimulated
  • Treating depression
  • Remaining social and not lonely or isolated
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping alcohol to a minimum

You can easily plan for your future by:

  • Making a Power of Attorney
  • Making an Advance Directive about your treatment wishes
  • Setting up a trust
  • Make a Will

The issues of caring for a loved one, acting for someone who has lost capacity or challenging care funding or care home funding arrangements is complex.

For advice and a free initial discussion call us today

Vicki Pearce

Posted:

Vicki Pearce

Partner

Vicki is a Partner and head of our Private Client Team and our Care Funding and Court of Protection Team . She is based in Northampton. As head of both teams she is able to bring her expertise and obvious overlaps into both areas of…