World Alzheimer's Month
This is the last in the series of articles marking World Alzheimer’s Month and raising awareness of dementia. It has been provided by the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society.
As September comes to an end, so too does World Alzheimer’s Month, the 12th annual international campaign to raise global awareness of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and combat the stigma and misinformation that surrounds the disease.
Sadly, the main issue regarding dementia is a lack of awareness by the public, health, and social care professionals and unfortunately some people will not even realise that World Alzheimer’s Month has come and gone.
The number of people living with dementia is expected to triple over the next 30 years. Families, friends, and society are also impacted by the cognitive decline and loss of functional abilities that can occur. As the number of people impacted by this disease grows, so will the number of care partners and families trying to manage to care and help people live well with dementia.
Daphne Alcantara, GADS Chairperson says: “During September, we encouraged everyone to learn more about dementia and its impact on society, it is vital that we all continue to speak up and spread awareness about the condition. The theme of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month campaign, ‘Never too early, never too late, reduce risk now’ focused on the importance of risk factors and their reduction in the context of delaying and potentially preventing the onset of dementia. The campaign also highlighted the continued importance of risk reduction for people who have already been diagnosed with the condition.
With someone in the world developing dementia every three seconds reducing dementia risk is more important than ever. In the absence of a cure or a treatment that is globally accessible, risk reduction remains the most feasible and proactive way to combat dementia; risk reduction remains an important tool to potentially reduce the risk of developing dementia. It is Never Too Early, or Never Too Late to manage our own risk; let us work together, inform, and make a tangible change to our lives, for even in the absence of a universal available treatment or cure, there are actions we can all take to help ensure that everyone lives well with dementia”.
Dementia can develop for decades before the symptoms become apparent, which is why we must Reduce Risk Now.
Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Risk reduction does not end at diagnosis – people with dementia can implement healthy lifestyle changes aimed at slowing the progression of the condition. More research is needed, and more should be done to ensure that people who have been diagnosed with dementia have access to the information and the support they will need to modify their behaviours and to continue to live a purposeful life.
Understanding and Supporting Dementia
Gaining a better understanding of what it is to live with dementia can help to support someone with the condition to live well. The way a person with dementia feels and experiences life is down to more than just having the condition. Their relationship, environment and support all shape their experiences too, family, friends, and carers can help the person with dementia to feel valued and included.
Some people may not acknowledge that they have dementia, they may deny that they are experiencing difficulties. Others may be aware that things are becoming harder but feel that it is a normal part of ageing and not dementia.
Support should be sensitive to the person as an individual and should also focus on promoting their wellbeing and meeting their needs. It is important to engage on what the person still does have, not on what they may have lost and concentrate on what the person feels, rather than what they remember.
The person living with dementia may be experiencing a world that is very different to that of the people around them. To understand and support the person, try, and see things from their perspective and recognise their coping strategies.
The way a person reacts to dementia will depend on their personality, their previous experiences, their understanding of the condition, the social and emotional support they receive, and their environment. People living with dementia may adopt coping strategies at different times.
Unite today and become A Dementia Friend
Dementia Friends programme is our biggest initiative to change people’s perception of dementia, we want to change the way people Think, Act and Talk about dementia. We need to get far greater involvement from all sectors, including policy makers to ensure people living with dementia and their families and caregivers feel properly integrated in our community.
Dementia Friends will support people living with dementia, their families and carers and will give as many people as possible of all ages and from all walks of life an understanding of the condition and the small things we can do to make a difference and improve the lives of people affected by the condition.
Dementia Friends will allow organisation and businesses to create an environment in which every employee understands dementia and feels able to talk about it and for employers to provide a public-facing service more accessible to customers and service users who are affected by dementia.
We want to encourage a spectrum of social action, from changes in everyday life behaviour to how people respond to dementia; to building a dementia-friendly community.
Dementia Friends information sessions will cover five key messages that we want everyone to know about dementia; to learn a little bit more about what it is to live with dementia and then turn their understanding into a practical action that could help people living with dementia. Actions can be as big or as small as they choose – because every action counts!
GADS is committed to changing the way that we THINK, the way that we ACT and the way that we TALK about dementia. If you want to find out how to become a Dementia Friend contact us on mobile: (00350) 56001422 or send an email to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Daphne Alcantara (GADS Chairperson) says: “Over the last decade we have seen major changes in dementia services with excellent contributions in health and social care and significant progress has been made, however despite this progress there is still much to be done.
Improving the quality of care and support for people living with dementia and those who care for them has been and will continue to be our main goal.
There are more people living in the community with dementia than in residential care and there is a ‘long’ waiting list for a ‘bed’ at Elderly Residential Services (ERS).
If people with dementia want to live at home or in a homely setting (which many do) for as long as it is safe and possible, we also need to ensure we support the people who care for them. We need to continue to move resources into community care, we need to press on with the re-design of local dementia services.
We need to invest in the community
To date, no “Assisted Home Living” accommodation has been built in the community specifically for people living with dementia and their families.
Assisted Home Living accommodation can bridge the gap between living independent and living in residential care. It is a long-term ‘in house’ care option that combines medical, health and social care support services i.e. GPs, nurses, OTs, physio’s etc coming to the residents home rather than they attending medical appointments in unfamiliar locations, this may be a better way of providing improved care and support. This type of living will enable people living with dementia, and their partners to be better supported in their own home for as long as possible and have a lower likelihood of going into hospital or long-term care.
We are eager to know what will happen with Mount Alvernia? will the Rooke site be a Care Home ? Who will move into this new build? Will it be dementia friendly? Will there be an offer of Assisted Home Living?
There are already a high number of patients diagnosed with dementia at St Bernard's Hospital waiting for a ‘bed’ at ERS.
The rising prevalence of dementia will lead to increased numbers of people with dementia being admitted to St Bernards Hospital. This demand may continue due to an increasingly older population who are likely to have higher levels of dependency, dementia, and other medical conditions.
The Gibraltar Health Authority must provide a dementia friendly environment, dementia friendly staff, dementia friendly support and care in admitted and non-admitted settings especially during hospital admissions at A&E and after admission to ensure that every person living with dementia, their families and carers receive high quality, compassionate person-centre care from diagnosis through to end of life care.
There are times when a person living with dementia may have been admitted to Ocean Views for treatment/assessment but once the person has been medically assessed and it is safe, they should return home or if 24/7 care and support is needed, they should be admitted into dementia friendly residential care.
Unfortunately, there have been cases where people diagnosed with dementia after having been assessment at Ocean Views cannot return home as they need 24/7 care and support. These patients are ‘held’ in acute wards at Ocean Views whilst they wait for a ‘bed’ at ERS. This is sad and regrettable and yet Sunshine Ward remains closed since 2022.
Sunshine Ward is an ‘asset’ which is not being utilised when we urgently need more ‘beds’. The GHA/ERS should do its utmost to re-open the ward with dementia trained medical, health and nursing care staff to ensure people living with dementia are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
GADS acknowledges that significant challenges remain in ensuring that people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, their families and carers get the support they need to live as well as possible and that we cannot ignore that there are financial restraints facing all sectors and it is only right that we review how we provide future support and care.
The end of September sees the end of World Alzheimer’s Month but our work continues:
GADS is committed to take action to make sure we have the best dementia health and social care support service available in Gibraltar to improve the lives of people affected and living with dementia; to have services not only to improve the best care and support today but also continue in the future as demand increases.”
For advice and support, contact :-
The Gibraltar Alzheimer’s Society
Email : email@example.com
Tel : (00350) 56001422
Face : www.//gibraltaralzheimersanddementiasociety