Many people have experienced the struggle of seeing, and perhaps even caring for, a loved one that has dementia. It’s a condition that affects the brain and mind and is most commonly found in the form of Alzheimer’s, which accounts for up to 70% of all dementia cases.
When a loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, their family members have to adapt. But, is the world adapting with them?
More and more, people are asking what ‘care’ is all about. It’s no longer enough to provide physical care, because it’s becoming increasingly understood that mental and social care are just as important. In fact, mental health can directly affect physical health. Unhappiness and loneliness can lead to physical deterioration.
There’s a real emphasis on staying social into retirement years, with older people being encouraged to be social online (i.e. social network) and to continue to go out and enjoy their hobbies with friends.
This mental care extends beyond what older people can do for themselves. Care providers are now working to find more and more ways to keep the mind stimulated and active, which in turn can help those with dementia to manage their condition. Care homes are organising more events, excursions and activities, whilst alternative care options are becoming more popular (including care in someone’s own home).
Inventors and creators are working to produce more and more technologies to help and support people with dementia.
Paro the Seal is a virtual pet – a cuddly seal – that is created for companionship and can help to combat loneliness. He’s just one of many technological developments intended to encourage social interaction. Thanks to online social networks, there are even more ways for people to connect.
Other inventions include vending machines with in-built WiFi, able to connect to devices worn by people with dementia to track their movements. Those with dementia can become confused and lost, but if they’re being monitored and tracked by the world around them then they’ll be easy to find again.
It’s important that everyone gains a better understanding of conditions such as dementia, because ultimately it will end up affecting almost everyone. That’s why charities and organisations are creating campaigns to make dementia more widely recognised. The more people understand, the more they’ll be able to make a positive impact on the lives of people with dementia.
Celebrity backed campaigns like the UK’s Dementia Friends aim to provide the general public with knowledge. Dementia Friends can access information sessions and training, giving them valuable information to put into action, and other similar campaigns are being created worldwide.
Scientists are working to find more and more ways to medically manage the symptoms of dementia. The rest of the world can work to make things better in the meantime, by making sure that dementia is more widely understood and by promoting social interaction not just for those with dementia but for all people, no matter what their age and circumstance.