Debra Campbell: Are you Dementia aware?

Debra Campbell, learning and development officer at SHARE, provides an insight into her own experience of Dementia.

A staggering one in 14 of over 65’s will develop a form of dementia though this isn’t an inevitable factor of age, so just how does it affect some of us but not others?

A question I ponder as I think of the number of people in my family who have had some form of dementia.

Dementia and me

Dementia doesn’t just affect the person it effects the whole family, when both my grandparents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease along with vascular dementia, we were suddenly left with two frightened strangers who had to be monitored and looked after 24-hours a day to keep them safe. My grandfather was especially difficult, and would leave the house in the early hours of the morning with his shopping bag full to the brim with all the cutlery in the house and would be found wandering confused and cantankerous when approached, to this day we laugh about him wandering about in his PJs, slippers and my mother’s coat hauling a bag of knives and forks, with no real idea why he did it. That’s the thing about dementia it makes no real sense how it will affect the individual or how quick it will take hold, until your left with a mere shadow of the person you used to know.

Spotting the changes

One of the things my grandfather would forget to do at the start, was pay his bills, or on the odd occasion he’d pay them twice. My grandmother was much more progressive in her illness and after a series of strokes added to her already burgeoning Alzheimer’s, became bed ridden with vascular dementia and was no longer able to manage her affairs at all.

Housing officers are often able to see small changes in a tenant’s behaviour before even family members do. An elderly tenant who suddenly misses paying their rent for example, may be out of character and are likely to respond to this differently than other non-payers.

Being dementia aware is something we should all be, particularly where we house elderly tenants or even just within our own family groups. Knowing the symptoms to look for and how to prepare for when there is a diagnosis will help us all prepare should the unfortunate happen. So, if you want to find out more about dementia and its implications for social housing why not join us on 29th November, 9.30am – 12.30pm for Dementia: Issues and implications for social housing providers.

You can find out more HERE and book your space.

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