Dementia

In the early stages of dementia, treatment is usually focused on maintaining activity to make sure that there is a good blood supply to the brain, and also to stimulate the brain so that it functions as well as possible. Lifestyle habits should aim for as good a blood supply as possible, so stopping smoking, losing weight, having a good diet, reducing alcohol intake, and doing a reasonable amount of exercise may help to slow down the progression of the disease. There are a number of apps that can help with this, which you can look at in the ‘Apps for managing dementia’ section below.

My TherAppy has been created by independent NHS professionals to assess the suitability of apps for people who have had a stroke or brain injury, and recommends approved apps which it lists. ‘Game Show’ helped a number of people with mild cognitive impairment to improve their memory as well as increased their enjoyment of playing a game.

There is also a lot of information available on websites such as Dementia UK, Alzheimers UK, and NHS: Home.

Sometimes there are specific problems which can be helped in other ways. Forgetfulness can be a problem which makes a person seem unable to manage on their own. Yet simple reminders can help you manage daily routines, and so remain independent for longer. Flo text messages can remind you to take your medicine, or to go to the shops on certain days of the week, or have something to eat or drink. Flo can also make suggestions so that you are less likely to forget things – like having post-it notes on the fridge door with messages on. There is a video below which shows how Flo works.

The Amazon Alexa or Google Home can be programmed to remind you as well, and some versions allow video conversations with other people.

Many small projects are using virtual reality glasses for people with dementia who would otherwise be unable to experience situations because of their physical frailty.

Some people with dementia have found wearing a small camera (called the Autographer) which takes pictures automatically, when played back the following day, can help recall what happened, who you met, and where you went. Having a visual record of what you did the day before reinforces your memory, and you can feel less confused if you go to unfamiliar places. There are some videos below where people who have used these cameras describe how it increased their confidence.

Carers are often poorly supported as they struggle to cope with the changes in a relative, due to their dementia. Closed Facebook groups would be a useful forum for many carers to share concerns, receive support, and to complain to others about their situation, and receive reassurance. There is a video below of using Facebook for patients with Atrial Fibrillation and their relatives.