By Kate Jaggers

11th September 2020

Categorised in Good To Know

World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is a campaign ran every September, globally by Alzheimer’s Disease International. With the aim of raising awareness and breaking down the stigma that surrounds dementia, each year highlights the continued need and importance for further conversations and research. Alzheimer’s Month is followed by World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day, which takes place on the 21st September.

Here at Suffolk Carers Matter, we understand the difficulties that follow a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, whether it’s yourself who has received the diagnosis or a family member.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease where increased care and support is generally needed the further into the condition a patient progresses. Decline varies from person to person but, communication and cognition gradually drops. With this cognitive decline comes a subsequent decline in independence and the ability to carry out daily tasks. As such, patients and their relatives find themselves at a challenging crossroad – do we have the resources to provide appropriate care, or do we consider a care or residential home?    

This may be a familiar concept to you, or you may be at the start of you or your relatives’ journey, but, whatever your situation, we have the support you need.

‘My Grandad went through a sudden deterioration. An initial hospitalization for a bacterial infection was the catalyst for the decline. Doctors could not find a cause for the bacterial infection for a significant amount of time, causing a prolonged hospital stay that seemed to heighten his symptoms and confusion. When he was finally given the all-clear to return home, things were not quite the same. My Grandma found herself in a caring role. She was attending to his every need, feeding, bathing and cleaning him, not only during the day, but at night-time too. He was utterly dependent on her.

Deciding whether to place a relative into a care home is a very difficult decision and is not one that is made lightly. More often than not, by the time a care home is being considered the individual may have limited mental capacity and a decision is made on their behalf, although it is important that person is not only assessed for mental capacity but every attempt is made to involve them in the decision. The decision is then made by health professionals, attorneys,  family members and where possible the person with dementia.

No matter who makes the difficult decision, what doesn’t change is how the decision is made – it is always made with the individual in mind and considers what is in their best interests. Even if the individual lacks mental capacity, they still need to be involved in the conversations regarding their care. It is important to remember that there are also alternatives to a care home such as live in care or supported housing with care. You should discuss all these options with social care to see what is best, not only for the person you care for but, for yourself as carer.

If you or a family member are caring for an Alzheimer’s patient and are considering what options are available to you and you are feeling overwhelmed and confused, don’t worry – you’re not alone. As previously mentioned, you must always consider the best interests of the person. Can you provide appropriate care for the individual? Can the individual care for themselves anymore? If you don’t feel like these are suitable options anymore, then considering care as an alternative might be a solution that works for you all.

Alzheimer’s Disease International, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK all offer a wealth of resources, information and advice.

Lack of sleep and extreme exhaustion took its toll on my Grandma, causing her to collapse and need medical assistance. She knew in her heart that she couldn’t have my grandad at home with her, as she simply could not give him the care he needed. As difficult as it was for her and our family to decide and after some hard conversations with Grandad, he soon realised he could not be at home either – he needed to be in full-time care. Of course, it was an adjustment for everyone but it was a decision that was made in kindness for everyone.’

With your help, we can achieve the global goal of raising awareness and breaking the silence that surrounds Alzheimer’s and dementia. By having those conversations, sharing knowledge and collaborating with one another, we can begin to tackle the challenges we currently face.

If you or someone you know cares for an individual with Alzheimer’s and you want further support, visit our website where you can sign yourself or someone you know, up for our support services. Or, if you would prefer to talk to a member of our friendly advice team, call us today on 01284 333035.

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