For those of us who, as yet, have no personal experience of Alzheimer’s, it’s often hard to truly understand the impact it can have – not only on the life of the person with the condition, but on the lives of close family members and carers too.
Like many people working in health or social care but not on the front-line, I sometimes find it too easy to draw an ‘invisible line’ between the things I write about for work and something that could happen to me, or someone I care about, at any point. And chances are, it will – there are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK – of which Alzheimer’s is the most common type. 670,000 people are caring for someone with the condition.
September is World Alzheimer’s Month. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, organisations across the world that support people with Alzheimer’s will be holding activities and events in a timely reminder of the need to keep raising awareness of the disease and challenging stigma.
It’s a good time to stop for a few moments and really think about the reality of this life-changing condition.
People with Alzheimer’s can lose their memories. Our memories are a big part of what makes us who we are. There are often mood changes and problems with communication and reasoning, which can be especially hard for close family members as they see someone they may have known for many years start to change before their eyes.
Alzheimer’s can take a huge toll on relationships, jobs and mental wellbeing. People caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s often need support to cope emotionally, as well as practical help to balance their caring role with other commitments.
People with dementia can also develop many physical health problems as their dementia progresses, so are likely to need support from both health and social care professionals. The more closely those services can work together, the more effective that support will be. There’s a lot of work going on in Leeds to ensure that services are more ‘joined-up’ to ensure people’s needs are considered as a whole, leading to a better experience for people who use services.
Read our post featuring Chris and Alison’s story for an example of how these changes are starting to make a positive difference for people with dementia and their carers. There’s more about the integrated approach at www.leeds.gov.uk/transform.
What support is available for people with Alzheimer’s and carers in Leeds?
If you live in Leeds and you or a relative have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there is a wide range of support available, including memory services, dementia cafes and more. Visit www.alzheimers.org.uk or call the local Leeds office on 0113 231 1727 for more information on these. You can also visit www.leeds.gov.uk/dementia for further information. Adult Social Care offers a peer support service – call customer services on 0113 222 4401 to be put in touch.
Advice about local services and activities is available from the Leeds Directory helpline on 0113 391 8333 or by visiting www.leedsdirectory.org.