Dementia and Alzheimer’s are often confused terms and easily misunderstood. Dementia is not a specific disease. It is an umbrella term for a group of progressive conditions that worsen over time and affect:
- focus and concentration
- communication and speech
- visual perception
- reasoning and judgement
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and was the leading cause of death in the UK in 2022 according to the Office of National Statistics. Sadly, all forms of dementia, but especially Alzheimer’s, are on the rise in the UK and across the world.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term for progressive brain disorders that affect memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Disorders grouped under the general term ‘dementia’ are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. They also affect behaviour, communication, feelings and relationships.
In the UK over 944,000 people are living with dementia and it is estimated that 1 in 3 people born today will develop dementia during their lifetime. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s, with an estimated 60 – 70% of dementia cases in the UK being attributed to Alzheimer’s disease.
Common types of dementia
There are many types of dementia and the most common forms are:
This is the most common type of dementia, which some people confuse as being an entirely separate illness, rather than a subset of dementia. Alzheimer’s develops slowly over many years starting with memory loss. There are several stages of Alzheimer’s and these stages are often referred to as early-stage, mid-stage and late-stage. Later stages of Alzheimer’s affect mood, behaviour, personality and the ability to communicate.
This is the second most common form of dementia in the UK. Vascular dementia is a decline in thinking skills caused by conditions, such as a stroke, that block or reduce blood flow to various regions of the brain, depriving them of oxygen and nutrients.
Vascular dementia can occur suddenly after a stroke, which blocks major blood vessels in the brain. However, it can also begin as mild changes that gradually worsen as a result of multiple minor strokes or another condition that affects smaller blood vessels, leading to widespread damage. Common symptoms include confusion, disorientation, difficulty speaking and walking, and poor balance.
Lewy Body disease
Also known as Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) is a form of dementia that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function. One of the hallmarks of Lewy Bodies disease is the presence of clumps of Lewy bodies, a type of protein, in nerve cells in the brain. Symptoms include changes in thinking and reasoning. Fluctuating cognition with episodes of delirium, recurrent visual hallucinations, and changes to alertness and attention are the most common symptoms. Some people also experience symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease such as slow movement, tremors and trouble walking.
This is a group of diseases characterised by the breakdown of nerve cells and their connections in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The causes of which are still unknown. The condition causes deterioration in behaviour, personality and difficulty with producing or comprehending language.
Less common forms of dementia include:
- Alcohol related dementia
- Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease
- HIV associated dementia
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) dementia
- Childhood dementia
- Huntington’s disease
- Mixed dementia
- Posterior Cortical Atrophy
- Korsakoff Syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a physical brain condition that results in impaired memory, thinking and a decline in cognitive abilities. It disrupts the brain’s neurons, affecting how they work and communicate with each other.
Symptoms start mildly with memory loss and progress over a long period of time leading to other cognitive problems such as disorientation, trouble communicating, recalling information or learning new things.
Common early signs of dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently. However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping or misplacing items at home
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right words
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that you tell your Doctor so they can investigate. Early detection of dementia is incredibly helpful as it allows the person and their family to plan ahead and make decisions about their own care and support needs before the illness progresses, as well as important financial and legal decisions.
Caring for dementia and Alzheimer’s at home
Different stages of dementia require different types of care to support comfortable living. However, there is no reason why someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s cannot continue living at home given the right care and support, no matter what stage of their illness.
Mid and late-stage dementia can cause distress and confusion around new routines or environments, making good quality home care even more beneficial to live well with the condition. Given the choice, most elderly people say they prefer to stay living at home rather than move into a care home or nursing home. Dementia home care is a great alternative to residential care for people who want to remain living in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by memories and the people they love.
What is dementia home care?
At Trinity Homecare, we are passionate about providing high-quality home care that enables people to live comfortably and independently in their own homes.
If you care for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you know how distressing the illness can be and how challenging it is to provide consistent care. That’s why at Trinity Homecare we have provided award-winning dementia care for over 25 years through our team of experienced and compassionate carers.
We offer a range of flexible care options for people living at home with Alzheimer’s and dementia. From visiting day care for as little as 30 minutes per visit a few times a week to live-in care and 24-hour care which provide round-the-clock support.
Flexible home care for different needs
The type of dementia care a person requires depends on the stage of the illness and their personal circumstances, such as whether they live alone or have family carers.
We provide a range of care options to suit all needs:
Early-stage dementia care
Symptoms may be fairly mild and centre around forgetfulness and disorientation. At this stage in the condition, it’s important to encourage as much social activity, exercise and cognitive engagement as possible to delay the progression. Visiting care may be the most suitable type of care at this time and can be arranged for as little as 30 minutes per day up to several visits per day.
Mid-stage dementia care
At this stage, a person with dementia will require a greater level of care as symptoms become evident. As routine and consistency are key for people with dementia, introducing professional care at this stage is crucial to your loved one’s ability to form a bond and accept the care given to them before the more advanced stages set in. For many of our clients, this is the time when care transitions from visiting care to live-in care ensuring a carer is available round-the-clock if any needs arise.
Late-stage dementia care
The late stages of dementia are characterised by a steep deterioration in the person’s condition and they will require 24-hour care that covers daytime and nighttime support. Carers can assist with things like continence, eating and drinking, monitoring weight, nighttime supervision and preparing tailored meals that the person is able to consume.
Trinity carers are specially trained to provide dementia care through all stages of the illness and we are proud to be a part of the Dementia Friends initiative, meaning our team is highly trained in line with the Alzheimer’s Society. With our specialist knowledge, we have made it our mission to enable our clients and their loved ones to live an enriched life at home.
We are very proud to have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission for our home care services. This puts us in the top 3% of home care providers in England. You can rest assured that you are receiving the best quality home care when you have Trinity Homecare by your side.
Get in touch
Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you or your loved one live well at home with dementia. Our expert care team is on hand to take your call 7 days a week, from 8:30 am to 5.30 pm.
We offer a free, no-obligation enquiry service, including a free at-home needs assessment with our professional care team. Simply call us on 0207 183 4884 or complete our online enquiry form to find out more.