Dementia can be distressing, both for those living with this condition, and for their families.
As dementia is a progressive illness, if someone has dementia, their symptoms will continue to develop over time. The rate of change will vary, depending on the type of dementia, and on other circumstances in their life. This means that they are likely to need more care and support, and they may need the professional care and support that can be offered in a nursing home.
This is a difficult decision to make, so it’s important to have all the facts to hand when considering care for people living with dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that covers a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain. People tend to refer most commonly to Alzheimer’s disease, but there are actually five common types of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia.
Dementia damages the nerve cells in the brain and prevents them from sending messages and communicating effectively with other nerve cells. Each type of dementia affects a specific part of the brain, and so can cause different symptoms, and progress in differing ways.
Most commonly, symptoms include:
Difficulties making decisions and problem solving
Speech and communication difficulties
Loss of daily living skills
Perception of, and interaction with, the space and objects around us
Symptoms tend to worsen as dementia progresses. In some cases this can be a slow progression, whereas in other types of dementia, symptoms can remain unchanged for some time, and then deteriorate quite quickly, before stabilising again for a while. During the later stages of dementia, the most common symptoms include:
Severe memory problems, for example, people may not recognise close family members.
A worsening of communication problems. Some people may lose the ability to express themselves.
Problems with mobility, making it difficult to move unaided, or becoming unable to walk.
Symptoms of distress, often related to an inability to make sense of the world around the person, resulting in anxiety, distress, and agitation.
If you’re caring for someone with dementia at home, you may be considering a care home. It’s a difficult decision for both carers and people living with dementia, so there are a few things you might want to take into account when thinking about taking this step.
When is the right time for Dementia nursing care?
The right time for someone with dementia to move into a nursing home is a very personal decision, and will be different for everyone.
If you’re struggling with this decision, remember that it’s important to think of what’s best for the person you’re caring for. If you’re at the stage where you’re unable to provide the help and support they need at home, then it might be the right time to start thinking about a nursing home where professional care can be provided.
Similarly, if someone can no longer live independently, it could be the right time for dementia nursing care.
Benefits of care for people living with Dementia
Although it’s an extremely difficult decision to make, and can often leave a carer feeling guilty, it’s important to recognise that there can be huge benefits of moving into a nursing home for someone with dementia. For example:
24-hour support from professionally trained staff
Activities designed to support health and wellbeing, tailored to individual needs
Social benefits of meeting other residents, building new friendships
And, of course, when someone moves into a nursing home, it doesn’t mean that you no longer have an important role in their care. You may find that your relationship with them improves, as you can focus on spending quality time together rather than worrying about everyday care duties.
Things to consider
To make the decision easier, you may want to ask yourself some questions. You could also make these questions talking points for a discussion about dementia care with the person you care for, if they’re able to.
How might nursing home staff be better able to provide care than you?
What would the benefits of moving to a nursing home be for the person you care for?
What would the benefits be for you, and your relationship with them?
How can you still be involved in their care if they go into a nursing home?
Dementia Nursing Care at Randolph Hill
NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) developed Promoting Excellence in 2010: A framework for all health and social services staff working with people with dementia, their families and carers.
At Randolph Hill, Promoting Excellence guidance and knowledge is followed in our in-house dementia training. All staff working in the home will receive training about dementia, at a level that is appropriate to their role in the home. This means that everyone working in the home has an understanding of how dementia can affect people’s lives, and how best they can help to lessen that impact.
The higher “skilled” level of training is provided to staff who have direct and/or substantial contact with people who have dementia. This means that nurses, carers and activities staff have a high level of understanding and skill in their work practice.
This ensures too that people with dementia, their families and carers are helped to understand their rights in the support, care and treatment they should expect to receive.
Here at Randolph Hill Nursing Homes, we do our very best to alleviate some of the difficulties caused by living with dementia. We offer a safe and stimulating environment for our residents, having clear signage in place to help people find their way around without any unnecessary confusion and distress.
We strongly believe in person-centred care for people with dementia, finding out their life stories and helping the person experience each day in a way that is recognisable and enjoyable.
Stimulating long-term memory
People with dementia often have good long-term memories and can get a huge reward from reminiscing. Our activities teams have many items from the past, often kept in rooms set out in style to bring back memories and encourage debate about ‘by gone’ times.
It’s the little things that count
People with dementia often gain great pleasure from seemingly small interactions. This could be a night time chat with a care worker, or maybe looking at an old family photo album. It could even be a slice of their favourite cake. All of these apparently small things can elicit positive reactions, not only bringing pleasure to the resident, but also contributing to the job satisfaction of our staff.
Individual Dementia Care Plans
Stability and regular routine are important parts of dementia care, both for residents and families. At our nursing homes across central Scotland with specialist dementia care skills, we involve residents and families in writing care plans which reflect the needs of that resident.
This attention to detail allows residents to be as comfortable as possible, feeling part of the nursing home community, surrounded by staff who know them well.
Find out more
If you’d like to discuss care for a person living with dementia in more detail, or find out about what we offer here at Randolph Hill, just get in touch. We’re more than happy to help with any questions you might have.