Combating the pain of Alzheimer’s with the comfort of home

Posted under Blog on July 5th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

The vital role that unpaid carers play in coping with the burden of Alzheimer’s has been highlighted in a recent article on Bloomberg which tells the story of Diane Bradshaw, who cared for husband Arnold following his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Diane has written a soon to be published book, I am Arnold, describing her husband’s experience with the condition, and hers as a carer. 

Diane spent six years caring for Arnold following his diagnosis. He was offered hospital care funded by the Veterans Administration, but the couple decided that they wanted him to remain at home.  As Arnold’s health deteriorated and he suffered serious infections and a heart attack, he spent more and more time in hospital but always returned home to Diane’s care.

Diane spent thousands of dollars on alterations to the couple’s home to enable her husband to be cared for at home and devoted much of her time to looking after him. This was a labor of love, but crucially, she was able to pay for 14 hours of nursing care a week which gave her a break from being a full-time carer, and some free time to spend with her daughter one day a week.

Diane cared for Arnold for six years as his condition deteriorated. He eventually died peacefully at home in 2010. Her account shows that the role of family and friends in caring for a person with Alzheimer’s is vital, but raises the wider question of the impact of being a carer. A person may be thrust into a situation with little or no training and have to learn the role of carer as they go.

Carers like Diane in the US carry out billions of hours of unpaid work caring for loved ones.  It is estimated that the cost of treating and caring for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients in the US ($200bn per year) is half of what it would otherwise be were these carers not around.

The Alzheimer's Association predicts that cases of Alzheimer’s in the US will increase from an estimated 411,000 in the year 2000, to 959,000 by 2050. This means that Alzheimer’s and dementia are set to be an increasing burden on healthcare services for the foreseeable future, and the role of unpaid carers will become more vital than ever.

It’s very important to recognize the benefits of home care versus institutional care and the strains that both can place upon a person with Alzheimer’s, and those who care for them. Your doctor can give you advice on the merits of care, and details of support services which may be available.

Tags: care, carers, support for carers, unpaid carers, veterans

A village for dementia

Posted under Blog on December 19th, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

The world’s population is getting older and, as a result, the World Health Organization has predicted that there will be 65 million people in the developed world suffering from dementia by 2030.

Earlier this year, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about a “national crisis” in the care services available for an ever-increasing population with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, calling it “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

One novel solution has emerged in Weesp, a small town in Holland, just a short drive from Amsterdam, which has attracted the attention of dementia experts and journalists from all over the world. 

The Hogewey nursing home has over 150 residents and has a unique approach to caring for elderly people with mental health conditions. What makes Hogewey different is that each of the 23 homes has a different design aesthetic, such as “old Amsterdam” and “urban lifestyle”, allowing residents to stay in a comfortable setting, echoing one that they would have been familiar with before they got dementia.

Residents have their own private bedroom and share the kitchen, lounge and dining room. Social interaction and regular exercise is encouraged by the many clubs, including baking, reading, bingo, painting and cycling.

Hogewey cost €19.3m to develop, much of which was provided by the Dutch government, and unsurprisingly there is a long waiting list. It has been compared to film The Truman Show and has a similar feel to the village of Portmeirion in North Wales, the setting of the classic television series The Prisoner.  Eloy van Hal, the facility manager, admits that Hogewey is "not completely normal. We pretend it is, but ultimately it is a nursing home, and these are people with severe dementia. Sometimes the illusion falls down; they'll try to pay at the hairdresser's, and realise they have no money, and become confused.”

A similar project, known as Dementiaville, is being prepared near Bern in Switzerland. Designed with 1950’s style houses and costing £17 million, it is due to open in 2017.

Tags: Alzheimer's, care, dementia

Alzheimer's, dementia and the campaign for dignity

Posted under Blog on March 5th, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new draft report has stressed the need for change in regards to care of the elderly.

The report by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) Confederation, Age UK and local Government Association says that dementia and Alzheimer sufferers are among the elderly who are most failed and neglected by the UK’s national care system.

It concludes that a one-size-fits-all model is not working with staff compassion and understanding replaced by tick lists and red tape.

The report highlights the importance of the individual and urges the care system to deliver its service with an improved level of dignity.

For example, empowering staff with dementia training will not only improve understanding but allow elderly to be cared for in a manner that is suitable to their needs; ensuring individual preferences, fears and personalities become the priority. 

Click here to read the Alzheimer’s Society comment

Tags: Alzheimer's, care, dementia, dignity, elderly, NHS



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