First Steps

When we are concerned that our Mum, Dad, Husband, Wife, Partner, etc may be regularly forgetting what we, or they, have said only a few moments ago, or are becoming confused about the day or the time, we either fear the worst – dementia, or just assume that “they are getting old”. Neither of these attitudes offers a sensible way forward.

Are you Worried?

Most of us start to forget things as we get older, we sometimes get a bit confused, and we start to feel that we are “not as sharp” as we used to be. This is normally nothing out of the ordinary. It can be annoying and frustrating for those around us. More often than not it is because we don’t listen or our mind is elsewhere. However, for some it seems that there is more to it than this.

As a husband, wife, partner, son, daughter, friend, etc you might be finding that it isn’t just occasional lapses of memory or minor misunderstandings. Maybe you have noticed that there is a change in their behaviour – perhaps, an irritability that wasn’t there previously. You may be finding that you are having to “look after” them, that you feel unable to “trust” them to do something in your absence, that they immediately forget what you have just told them, or that they keep repeating themselves only a few minutes apart.

Persistent loss of short–term memory, confusion and changes in behaviour are symptoms which may be the result of the onset of dementia but there are also other causes.

If you are worried that someone you care for may be developing, or already has these symptoms it is far better to confront your concerns. Waiting to see if they get worse or, as is often the case, just hoping that they will improve is not a sensible way forward .

Finding Out

Most carers of someone with dementia will tell you that the most important first step is to “find out” whether you have any reason to be concerned. Why? – because:

Getting Help

There are many sources of help but  it can be confusing and difficult to access them. This is especially so  in the early stages when you are probably suffering from stress and anxiety. The Debenham Project wants to make the first steps in “Getting Help” as easy and straightforward as possible.

Contact your doctor. Remember you are often also his/her patient as well as the person for whom you care.

Talk to your friends and those you might know who have experience of dementia.

Look for quality information. The Debenham Project website and The Debenham Library can offer a simple and easy initial source of information and can then guide you to further and more detailed sources as necessary.

Contact one (or more) of the charitable agencies. The Debenham Project, Age UK Suffolk, The Alzheimer’s Society, and Suffolk Family Carers all provide excellent advice and support based upon a wealth of experience and training.

Explore the available support services and activities. The Debenham Project is providing a range of such services together with the Charities, The Local Authority and the NHS.

Don’t hesitate to call 01728 862003 if you need assistance.