Dementia is challenging many medical experts, and whilst there is much research about the causes and cures, we are also learning how to better treat the symptoms of the disease.
What we do know is, the number of diagnosed cases of dementia in Australia will almost treble over the next 40 years.
Silver Chain Executive General Manager, Social Care, Melanie Kiely, said as we learn more about the disease, we work out better ways to help those living with dementia to live their best life.
“Just because someone is living with dementia, it doesn’t mean they lose their skills, knowledge or ability to contribute to society and live a meaningful life,” Melanie said.
“The mind works in wonderful ways, and although someone may show symptoms of dementia, like memory loss or confusion, when you put them into a familiar situation or stimulate them with an idea or task it’s very easy to forget that the person you’re caring for even has dementia.
“What we find is, by getting to know a person and understanding their passions and experiences, it allows us to tailor our services and more often than not, that sparks their energy and enthusiasm.”
Joan, one of our Silver Chain Social Centre clients is living with dementia. She experiences memory loss and at times anxiety and paranoia.
These are common symptoms of dementia and Social Centre staff, who are trained Dementia Champions (accredited by Alzheimer’s Australia), know how to help clients like Joan by creating a comforting environment where she can utilise her skills.
Silver Chain Social Centre Coordinator, Mandy Holmshaw, said Joan loves being around people, and can have short conversations.
“Like all our clients, we took time to get to know Joan, find out what her interests are and what makes her smile,” Mandy said.
“We found out she had a passion for knitting and embroidery, an interest she thought less about as she got older.
“One day, we set Joan up with our activity box full of wool and knitting needles, and just like riding a bike, Joan was back in her groove with a pair of knitting needles in her hands. Not only did she enjoy the knitting, she began teaching others the basics of knitting.
“It’s amazing to see, and a great example of how opportunities and understanding can add value to a person with dementia’s life.”
All Silver Chain services are dementia friendly, such as our Social Centres where the personalities of our clients with dementia really come to life.
“We know our Social Centre staff, facilities and programs help our clients immensely and they are a much-needed source of respite for their family and carers,” explained Mandy.
“As we learn more about dementia, we hope to be able to continue to build on our dementia friendly Social Centres and in-home services to help more people live their best life.”