When it’s more than just forgetfulness – World Alzheimer’s Day 2016
Today is World Alzheimer’s Day and part of World Alzheimer’s month. It marks a global campaign to raise awareness of dementia and tackle the stigma surrounding the disease worldwide.
The theme for this year is Remember Me. People all around the world are being encouraged to “understand the importance of memory as a hallmark of dementia, not forget about loved ones who are living with dementia, or who may have passed away.” Alzheimer associations in more than 60 countries will be taking part in this year’s campaign. In the UK, Alzheimer’s Society has 31 Memory Walks taking place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over September and October. Click here for more details
Keen to show my support for the campaign, I have joined the global voice on promoting dementia awareness. But why?
- Every 3 seconds someone in the world develops dementia
- There are around 800,000 people in the UK who have dementia
- There are almost 47 million people with dementia worldwide. This figure is expected to double in the next 20 years
- Dementia knows no social, economic or geographical boundaries
- There is no cure
- I could develop dementia
There are many misconceptions surrounding dementia. In my bid to help raise awareness, I felt it would be useful to explore some of the facts about the condition and highlight some practical steps that can be taken should you or a relative be diagnosed with the condition.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common types of dementia.
What are the Symptoms?
Whilst everyone experiences dementia in their own way, there are some common symptoms:-
- Memory loss e.g. problems recalling things that happened recently
- Difficulty thinking things through and planning e.g. struggling with familiar tasks, such as following a recipe or using a debit card
- Problems communicating e.g. difficulty finding the right word
- Being confused about time or a place e.g. losing track of what time, date or season it is
- Sight and visual difficulties e.g. difficulty judging distances
- Mood changes or difficulties controlling emotions e.g. becoming unusually sad, frightened or angry
Living with Dementia and Planning Ahead
Take time to ensure that your affairs are in order. There are steps that can be taken to make sure you get to choose how you live now and in the future. These choices could range from how your money is managed to how you want to be cared for at the end of your life.
If you have dementia, the law protects your right to:
- Make your own decisions and be involved in any decisions that affect you
- Get support with making decisions about the future that you are finding difficult to make now
- Put plans in place in case you are unable to make decisions in the future
- Appoint someone you trust to make decisions in your best interests if you can’t.
Lasting powers of attorney
Lasting powers of attorney are legal documents that give you the opportunity the appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to.
Everyday tasks, for example, managing your accounts, paying your bills and maintaining your property will become increasingly difficult as dementia progresses. If you have a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney in place, the person that you have chosen to be your attorney will have the authority to deal with these matters.
If you create a health and welfare lasting power of attorney, it will ensure that important decisions about your daily routine, medical care, moving into a care home and life-sustaining treatment can be made by someone that you choose.
Without lasting powers of attorney in place, your family could find major decisions being left to the court, medical professionals or social workers.
Make sure that you have an up to date will. You can still make a will or change your will if you are still able to understand the decision that you are making and the implications of any changes.
It is essential that you make sure all of your important documents can be found easily.
The stigmatisation of dementia is a global problem and it is clear that the less we talk about dementia, the more the stigma will grow.