FIRSTLY, WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT DEMENTIA IS?
Well, let us tell you about it - dementia is the overarching term for many different conditions that affect the brain, by damaging nerve cells so messages cannot be easily sent to and from the brain, negatively affecting the functionality of the body.
And what does that really mean? To put it simply, your brain is affected so that you can’t always do things in the same ways you did before.
What can some of these affected things look like? It could be sitting down and not being able to get up again, something often experienced for Lizzie's family who are now well versed in picking up her 6' 2" dad out of a chair. Not being able to work out the correct change when out shopping. Not being able to remember why you’re out shopping in the first place. Forgetting where home is. Or not being able to pick up social and emotional cues in conversation, such as laughing at seemingly inappropriate moments.
Every dementia sufferer is affected differently. We have been told that if you have met one person with dementia, you have only met ONE person with dementia. Everyone is unique and has their own personal experience of the condition.
Here at TID we are championing one of the least well-known types of dementia - young onset, which is dementia that affects those under 65 years of age. Wait, young people can be diagnosed with dementia? Yep, in the UK there are roughly 42,000 people living with young onset dementia, which amounts to around 5% of all those affected by dementia in the UK.
It’s harder to recognise and diagnose young onset dementia as people don’t realise it’s something that can affect them, and it’s often not something they really want to consider. For younger people the impact of a dementia diagnosis is life-changing as they have to plan around early retirement, paying off mortgages, and the supporting of children or their own dependent parents.
A dementia diagnosis at any age is a diagnosis that affects not only the person living with the condition but all their surrounding family and friends. We can see this in practice with over 700,000 family members and friends acting as informal carers for the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
This makes the work of Admiral Nurses so essential as they work alongside people with dementia and their families, who are often unpaid or informal carers, to provide one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions. They help families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.
With over 200 types of dementia all with unique effects and symptoms, it’s hard to cover everything. Whilst we aren’t qualified to delve into science and biology, we are keen to share our learning together and will be launching our own blog to do this in the coming weeks. We hope that by blogging these stories, interviews, and truths - we can increase the public understanding of dementia, and break down the barriers around those current misconceptions and myths.