September is World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise dementia awareness and challenge stigma. Each year, Alzheimer and dementia associations, alongside all those involved in the treatment, care and support of people living with dementia, from around the world unite to organise advocacy and information provision events, as well as Memory Walks and fundraising days.
This year’s campaign theme, Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s, is all about the power of knowledge. Once you know more about dementia, you are armed with information, advice and support, and are better able to prepare and to adapt.
In this blog, Cassie Eastham, research associate for the Empowered Conversations trial, reflects on the importance of post-diagnostic support.
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is often a life changing moment for the person and their family and friends. Two-thirds of people living with dementia are supported at home by an unpaid, informal carer who can be faced with having to navigate what that diagnosis might mean now and in the future. Knowing more about the diagnosis, what services are available, and where to turn for support can give carers the power to get the best care for their loved one.
On a practical level, this can be finding out about how to adapt the person’s home and use equipment to promote independence, financial issues such as benefit entitlements and Lasting Power of Attorney, or how to maintain meaningful activities that improve the person’s quality of life.
It is also important for carers to think about their own needs and wellbeing as they adjust to the new role in their life. It can be helpful to talk to other carers who are in similar circumstances and many areas provide dementia cafés or carers groups for people to meet in a friendly environment. Post-diagnostic education sessions and courses such as Empowered Conversations also offer opportunities to share experiences and learn from other carers.
Rachel cares for her mum and has completed Empowered Conversations, she explains: “The things you learn help you to have better conversations with the person you love, you also get to meet some amazing people who are on the same kind of journey which makes it less lonely. I think that doing the course has helped me to stay better connected with my mum and I’d encourage others to try it.”
GMMH and the University of Manchester looking for volunteers to take part in a research study investigating the effect of Empowered Conversations for carers of people living with dementia.
Dementia United - working to make Greater Manchester the best place to live if you have dementia or are caring for someone who does
Dementia UK – the specialist dementia nurse charity providing advice and support online and via the Admiral Nurse service and helpline (0800 888 6678 Monday to Friday: 9am to 9pm, Saturday to Sunday: 9am to 5pm)