The number of people being diagnosed with dementia is on the rise.
In less than 40 years time there will be 1.7m people living with Dementia. Currently there are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK.*
When the illness is late onset – usually over age 60, with symptoms slow to appear – diagnosis is normally prompted by simple triggers like multiple speeding tickets or no longer being able to remember how to reach a regular destination such as your usual supermarket by car.
Prior to reaching this point, a person may also have been experiencing various degrees of memory loss put down to ‘old age’ and venting frustrations when unable to do day to day tasks like they used to do.
At the point of diagnosis a swift action plan with a holistic approach geared towards the person’s housing needs has to be carefully taken into consideration, to enable the sufferer to live independently for as long as possible. A well designed house which is warm and soundproofed creates a calm environment, where people are less likely to experience the common feelings of being lost or distressed.
The design of homes can help
Various housing associations are offering innovative solutions from design and layout of homes, increased dementia awareness staff training, and regular residents’ health checks, assisted technology services to dementia proofing and retrofitting. These innovations could be replicated in private households and the dementia care pathway.
A well designed home makes all the difference to the person and their families/carers. It can also reduce hospital stays which often result in less independence afterwards
According to Dementia: Finding housing solutions, a report by the National Housing Federation – the purpose of each room should be clear with the fittings and furniture helping to define the rooms, there should be good signage at eye level, the contrast of tone rather than colour can help to make objects and switches easily visible, ensuring kitchens and bathrooms have practical layouts, glass fronted or open cupboards and in each room illuminated clocks showing AM or PM.
It has been proven that the longer someone suffering from the illness stays at home rather than being put into residential care, the better their outlook will be.
It would make complete sense for current retirement and pension planning to allow for contributions being put aside specifically for mental health condition care in later life. Most people with dementia require greater levels of help with routine tasks as their condition progresses.
Most people who have worked and saved all their lives find both their own and their families life savings and private pensions rapidly disappearing. Money is used for expensive care bills with hiring of private carers or agency staff when people can no longer care for themselves and they do not qualify for help from the local council/borough. This could be prevented by earlier diagnosis of the condition, which would enable the sufferer to plan/ modify the design and layout of their home and life well in advance of reaching a crisis point.
Having all the practical solutions in place, will ease the mentally and physically compromised state advanced Dementia sufferers often have to exist in, decrease the burden on the NHS and families/carers and ensure the sufferer has the best outcome and quality of life.
Remaining happy at home is the one single thing people with dementia desire the most.
* Dementia: Finding housing solutions. NHF. 1May 2013.
For further information about Dementia see:
- Alzheimers Society
Includes information on types and progress of dementia, as well as a Guide for recently diagnosed family and friends.
The site is designed to provide patients with dementia, their carers and family members with a whole host of helpful resources and information.
- Dementia village residents have fun
The Guardian report on an uplifting care village in Amsterdam for those living with Dementia.
Top blog image © Garry Knight