This blog has been inspired by the work The AoC have recently been doing based around dementia. Details of this work will be provided at the end of this blog so please do take time to read it. Many thanks.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a mental heath issue that can severely affect a person’s life as well as their families and close friends. Dementia is a word that can describe the the following set of symptoms;
- Memory loss
- Difficulty thinking
- Difficulty problem-solving
Those that suffer with dementia see the above problems start on a small scale but then become more severe as times goes on and will affect their day to day life. Those who suffer from dementia will also experience changes in both their moods and behaviour.
Dementia can be caused when the brain becomes damaged by diseases such as Alzheimer’s or from a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia but is not the only one. Symptoms from dementia can vary as it depends on what part of the brain is damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
Every person diagnosed with dementia will experience it in their own unique way. The different types of dementia affect them in a different way. The most common symptoms of dementia are;
- Day-to-day memory – for example, difficulty recalling events that happened recently
- Concentrating, planning or organising – for example, difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks (such as cooking a meal)
- Language – for example, difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something
- Visuospatial skills – for example, problems judging distances (such as on stairs) and seeing objects in three dimensions
- Orientation – for example, losing track of the day or date, or becoming confused about where they are.
Dementia as mentioned earlier also causes mood changes. Those effected can become frustrated or irritable, usually sad or upset and feel withdrawn and anxious. Dementia is progressive which means it will become worse over time. This varies from person to person. As it progresses the person suffering from dementia may begin to act out of character i.e. asking the same question multiple times. This can become challenged for those who are close to them.
A person with dementia can also experience physical symptoms such as muscle weakness or weight loss. Changes in their sleep pattern and eating habits may also change as the dementia worsens.
Statistics show that there are around 850,000 people currently suffering from dementia in the UK alone. It mainly effects people over the age of 65 – (1 in 14 people of this age range suffer with dementia). The likely hood of being diagnosed with dementia increases significantly with age. However, it can also affect younger people as more than 42,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 have dementia.
Dementia is currently being investigated by scientists to see if it runs in families. It has been proven that in a very small number of people a certain type of dementia can be inherited as a single gene that directly causes the disease. The people with this gene will usually experience dementia before the age of 65.
My Experience of Dementia
Dementia has recently had an impact on my life as well as my families. My nan I believe is in the early stages of dementia. This have progressing and getting more severe as the days pass. She is getting very forgetful also changes in personality at times. An example of this can be her shouting and getting quite snappy with my mom & auntie who care for her. In the 25 years of my life I have never heard my nan even raise her voice so for me I can see how drastically the dementia is affecting her. Its only been over the last few years we have noticed a change as when I go to see her she asks if ‘I’m courting’ although I have been with my partner 3 years. She also always asks whose child my nephew Hudson is although she has been told and had a close relationship with my brother and his partner too.
She also always asks for her mom and my granddad who both unfortunately passed away and haven’t been with us for over 8 years. She also doesn’t realise she is in her own home & believes we have put her into care which makes her angry & upset where she can then become verbally abusive and upset my mom and auntie who are there at the time caring for her.
It has a huge effect on my family, especially my mom and auntie has they are now her carers in a sense as she still lives at home alone. She is rarely left on her own due to it not being safe. She becomes fed up and irritable to the point where she wants to leave the house. We must hide house keys, so she cannot get out because she goes wandering and has done this on numerous occasions. The latest time she got out the house and managed to walk aw down a busy main road. Luckily my brother’s fiancés sister was passing and was able to pick my nan up & take her to my aunties. My nan was not aware of who this person was, so it could have been a stranger which goes to show how unsafe this is.
My mom and auntie as stated before are her main carers and must juggle their own family and day to day life on top of caring for my nan. My mom holds down 2 jobs, cares for my nan as well as looking after her own house. This has had an affect on my mom as she has no time to herself to relax or socialise really. Either her or my auntie will need to sleep down my nan’s house each night so that she is not left alone overnight.
It’s not nice seeing someone you love so much deteriorate and fade. I know my nan is still in there at times but can’t help but notice the way the disease is affecting her both mentally and physically. We all love her so much we will do anything we can to help. She is always adamant she does not want to be put into a care home although it would make my mom and aunties lives much easier.
The Dementia Poetry Exhibition
In the winter of 2017, The Arts of Change (The AoC) a counselling and therapeutic arts company was awarded a grant from The Arts Council England to develop a poetry project that had started back in 2011.
The group facilitators were sought and trained to delivery poetry groups to people living with dementia at Brett Young Gateway, Crystal Gateway in Dudley and BUDS: The Dementia Support Charity in Sandwell.
71 original poems were created by the entire members of each of those groups and the individuals within them. 60 of them are now being displayed in an exhibition which will move around to different locations. The poems explore a range of themes including living with dementia. Each of the poems are beautiful and moving.
The exhibition will be at the following venues at the following dates;
Mondays to Fridays 10:00am – 02:00pm.
Monday 19th February to Friday 2nd March 2018 – The AoC, St James House, Trinity Road Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1JB.
Monday 5th March to Friday 9th March 2018 – Crystal Gateway, Brettell Lane, Stourbridge, DY8.
Monday 12th March to Friday 16th March 2018 – Brett Young Gateway, 34 Old Hawne Lane, Halesowen, B63 3TB.
Monday 19th March to Friday 23rd March 2018 – BUDS, Great Bridge Library, Sheepwash Lane, Tipton, DY4 7JF
Monday 26th March to Friday 27th May 2018 – Dudley Library, St James Road, Dudley, DY1 1HR
The Dementia Poetry Project exhibition will finally finish at Central Dudley library, where it will remain from Monday 26th March right through to Sunday 27th May 2018 in support of dementia awareness week which kicks off on Monday 21st May nationally. If you are in the area, please make time to visit our exciting exhibition and feel free to leave a comment in our comments box. This is a FREE event and the poems are quite beautiful and moving.
Thank you for reading and we hope to see you at one of the venues where the exhibition is being held.