If you are worried about your memory you should arrange to speak to a doctor about this. It may be that your symptoms are not dementia but are caused by something else which you can get treatment for. It is natural for people’s memories to get a little worse as the body ages, however, if your memory problems are causing difficulties in your day to day life, you should speak to your doctor about it.
The doctor will want to know about your day to day life and how you are coping. They will run some physical tests, including blood tests, and a short memory test. They may refer you to a memory clinic if they suspect your symptoms are due to a less common type of dementia.
If you do get a diagnosis of dementia you will have lots of questions. There is a Dementia Adviser at the Surgery called Fanny Middleton. Anyone who receives a diagnosis of dementia should have an appointment with Fanny and she will answer questions, help work out any benefits you are eligible for and tell you what services are available in your area. Fanny can be reached on 01380 739055 or 07793 250491.
If your symptoms change you should speak with your doctor. It may be that a different and treatable illness is making the dementia appear to be worse. If you find the short time allocated for a doctor’s appointment too stressful, please ask for a double appointment when booking your appointment. This will allow you more time to speak to the doctor.
While there is no cure for dementia, there is medication which can slow down the progression of the disease. This is one reason why it is good to get a diagnosis as early as possible.
There are lots of services available for people with dementia, which Fanny can tell you about. However, if you feel that you are coping well at this stage, Fanny will arrange for a follow-up phone call every 6 months to check how you are getting on. As the disease progresses you may need more support, and in Wiltshire this is provided by a charity called Alzheimer’s Support.
Alzheimer’s Support’s range of flexible services support people living at home with mild to moderate dementia; helping them to maintain as much independence and control over their lives as possible. It works alongside family carers, providing information and emotional support throughout the course of the illness.
Alzheimer’s Support’s services include
- Day Clubs for people with dementia in Devizes
- Support groups and training courses for family carers
- Free counselling
- Support workers who can spend time with someone with dementia, doing whatever the person wants to do.
- Alzheimer’s Café in East Grafton
- Movement for the Mind in Melksham
- Wildlife Club near Devizes
Alzheimer’s Support is always happy to answer questions and provide support.
You can call on 01380 739055, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in to the office at 5 Sidmouth Street, Devizes, SN10 1LD.
The office is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
Information is also available at www.alzheimerswiltshire.org.uk
Dementia services provided by The Old School Surgery
Please read Dr Paddon’s article about dementia recently highlighted in ‘Our doctor writes’ article.
Contact Mary Soellner for local information 07717 893737
Planning for the future
If you get a diagnosis of dementia it is essential to think about what the future will bring and to make sure that your financial and legal affairs are in order.
Swan Advocacy offer a free service you help you create a ‘Living Well Plan’. This plan is a record of what is important to you now and in the future, your choices, plans, hopes and preferences. What you think and your wishes are recorded for those who may need to make decisions on your behalf in the future.
Details can be found at www.swanadvocacy.org.uk/wiltshire or by calling 03333 447928.
What is dementia?
The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may at first include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Later it may affect someone physically as the brain’s ability to control the body declines.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or a series of strokes. It is not a natural part of ageing.
There are over 100 different types of dementia, and all types of dementia are progressive. This means that the structure and chemistry of the brain become increasingly damaged over time. The person's ability to remember, understand, communicate and reason gradually declines.
How quickly the dementia progresses depend on the individual. Each person is unique and experiences dementia in their own way.
The Alzheimer’s Society is a national charity that provides a large amount of useful and practical information about dementia. To find out more go to www.alzheimers.org.uk Leaflets covering many subjects are available to download or request.
Dementia Friends is a scheme which aims to change the way people think, speak and act about dementia by encouraging people to attend a free information session. The session is an interesting and engaging way to learn a little about dementia and how it can affect people’s lives and is suitable for all ages and backgrounds. It also highlights how making small changes in our own behaviour can make life a little easier for people living with dementia and their family carers.
More information about Dementia Friends is available at www.dementiafriends.org.uk or you can ask Mary Soellner at the surgery about any upcoming sessions locally.
AgeUk also has information leaflets that may be of interest to you. Ring 01380 727767 to request. Subjects cover financial support, caring for someone with dementia, powers of attorney and wills as well as social care, practical and emotional support and caring for someone with dementia. www.ageuk.org.uk
Online forums such as ‘Talking Point’ discuss some of the practicalities and also some of the challenges of caring for someone with dementia.