Dementia is a progressive disorder that affects how the brain functions.
For some, this means the ability to remember, think and reason is no longer straightforward.
As we get older, we may notice our memory is not as sharp as it once was.
It’s a common observation, but many of us wonder if these memory problems could be an early sign of dementia.
I go in the next room at home, pause for a moment then stand thinking as I’ve entered the room – what have I come in here for? I ask myself whether my memory must be going?
But usually people with early stage dementia don’t always realise they have it.
A member told me recently “they (his family) have stopped me driving”.
I wasn’t surprised, as I was aware of this gentleman’s condition, but I was surprised by the fact that he thought he was still capable of driving.
It’s extremely sad to see the confusion and when people are living alone, I do worry for their safety.
The worrying thought that continually springs to mind is that these people are sitting targets to abuse.
I chat daily with our members and while collecting their journey and dinner money one might ask me to ‘help myself’ offering me their purse or wallet.
The word vulnerable adult doesn’t quite hit home until you’ve spent time with people with dementia and witnessed as I have, their day to day routine.
Living alone and being lonely can have an impact on one’s health and can be just as damaging as lifelong smoking or alcoholism.
There is emotional loneliness due to the lack of a significant other or social loneliness which is about lacking connections in a wider circle of friends.
Apparently there is twice the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the lonely than someone who is not lonely.
My mother was a widow for some 25 years but wasn’t a lonely person. She enjoyed her own company at times and was an avid reader.
She had a wonderful sense of humour and was very intelligent but it wasn’t until she could no longer complete her Daily Express crossword that I realised that something wasn’t quite right.
She would relate to me that a Bo Peep head dressed woman had passed by her window (she lived in an upstairs apartment) and at the time I passed it off as a dream and reassured my mother that’s probably what it was. This gentle-natured lady who had always taken life in her stride with a glint her eye argued vehemently that it wasn’t a dream and that I was insulting her insisting it was!
Sadly, she was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and eventually became a person neither me or my siblings recognised.
Vascular dementia can develop following a stroke or due to blood vessel damage.
One would think dementia is age related but more and more, younger people are being diagnosed and it’s a very frightening thought indeed.