Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain. There are various subtypes of dementia, but the five most common are: Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (often associated with Parkinson’s disease), frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.
The brain is made up of nerve cells called neurones that communicate with each other by sending messages. Dementia damages the nerve cells in the brain so messages can’t be sent from and to the brain effectively, which prevents the body from functioning normally. This can cause memory loss, confusion and mood changes.
Regardless of which type of dementia is diagnosed and what part of the brain is affected, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia can affect people of any age but is generally more common over the age of 65. If one develops it before this age it is generally referred to as early onset dementia. There are currently over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this figure is rising all the time as we are living longer.
In the UK there are more women than men with dementia, 61% as opposed to 39% of men with the disease. This is generally because women tend to live longer. It is anticipated that by 2021 there will be over 1 million people with Dementia in the UK. Dementia develops slowly and the symptoms are not always obvious initially, often mixed up with general ageing and some age associated memory loss
Occupational therapy can be a valuable source of support for clients with Dementia, their carer’s and their families. The role of an Occupational Therapist (OT) is to work with clients to maximise their level of independence with their daily activities. This can be achieved through the assessment of a person’s daily life to identify routines and activities that they wish to maintain, their strengths and limitations.
The Dementia journey is different for everyone diagnosed and an OT’s role is to provide clients and their families with the tools needed to maintain function and preserve their memory for as long as possible. An OT will work closely with a client with Dementia and their family to identify the areas they are struggling with and help them find alternative ways to manage. We can offer practical advice and techniques to the client as well as their family members.
Dementia Case Study