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September 2017 – Blog on Challenge the Stigma of Dementia

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First launched in 2012, World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma which surrounds dementia. World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21 September each year. This year’s theme of ‘Remember Me’ will highlight the importance of early detection and diagnosis of dementia.

Sadly, the stigmatisation and misinformation that surrounds dementia remains a global problem, which requires global action.

The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms which may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language and often changes mood, perception or behaviour.

At Thomson & Bancks, we invited Dementia Friends to come and speak at each of our 3 offices a few months ago and many of our staff were keen to sign up to become a Dementia Friend Champion, promising to dispel the myths by talking about the disease and be on the lookout in the community for those sufferers who need assistance.

Five things you should know about dementia:

  1. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
    Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it does not just affect older people. Over 40,000 people under 65 in the UK have dementia. This is called early-onset or young-onset dementia. Symptoms include memory issues, difficulties with planning, thinking things through, struggling to keep up with a conversation and, sometimes, changes in mood or behaviour.
  2. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
    Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease cause nerve cells to die, damaging the structure and chemistry of the brain. No two types of dementia are the same, so there may be damage to different parts of the brain’s chemistry and structure.
  3. It is not just about losing your memory
    Short-term memory problems will exist but sufferers may also repeat themselves and have problems recalling things that happened recently. Dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave.
  4. People can still live well with dementia
    Until a cure is found, support and treatments are available that can help with symptoms and managing daily life. These can allow people with dementia to lead active, purposeful lives and carry on doing the things that matter to them most.
  5. Alzheimer’s Society is there for anyone affected by dementia
    Treatment; Whilst there is no known cure currently, medicines have been developed for Alzheimer’s disease that can temporarily alleviate symptoms or slow down their progression in some people.

Talking therapies (or psychological therapies) give people the chance to speak in confidence to a trained professional about problems or issues that are causing them concern.
If a person has depression or anxiety but the symptoms are mild, they may be offered self-help, referred to a support group or encouraged to exercise and engage in social activities.
If the person’s symptoms are severe, drug treatment (e.g.: an antidepressant) is usually offered, sometimes before or in combination with a talking therapy. Some people with dementia who have depression or low moods will also benefit from activities such as life story work or reminiscence.

Sleep disorders and disruptive behaviour during the night are commonly associated with dementia. Bright lights have been found to be beneficial as a treatment. During bright light therapy a person sits in front of a light box which provides about 30 times more light than the average office light for a set amount of time each day. One small but well-conducted study showed promising effects of bright light therapy on restlessness and disturbed sleep for people with dementia. Additionally, a large and well-conducted research review found that bright light therapy can result in less daytime sleeping and increased night-time sleeping.

Why not become a supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society or a Dementia Friends Champion today? Whatever you choose to do, please spread awareness during Alzheimer’s Awareness month each September.

Further reading

Download this blog post as a PDF here

Lucy Sherry, Solicitor-Advocate; Head of Medical Negligence specialises in medical negligence litigation, previously representing the NHS Litigation Authority and one of the GP Unions. Lucy now works with injured individuals and bereaved families to achieve compensation for adverse outcomes. Lucy has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge, regularly delivering medico-legal training to lawyers, attending many hours of medical lectures each year to keep abreast of changes in treatments, and gaining an insight into new health and medical findings to share with Thomson & Bancks’ clients and visitors to this blog.

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Catch up with Lucy Sherry’s previous blog posts

August 2017 – Blog on Road Victims Awareness Month – August 2017
July 2017 – Blog on Group B Strep Awareness Month
June 2017 – Blog on Brain Food!
May 2017 – Blog on Why Eating Less Meat Could Help Save the Planet!
April 2017 – Blog on the EWG’s Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen
March 2017 – Blog on Going Sugar-free this Lent
February 2017 – Blog on Antibiotics in Animal Feed & the Rise of the Superbug; 1 Reason Why I was Vegetarian!
January 2017 – Blog on Alcohol; a harmless social escape or a dangerous poison?
December 2016 – Blog on Our annual Christmas binge & January famine!
November 2016 – Blog on Battling Stress at Work
October 2016 – Blog on The Taboos About Men’s Mental Health

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