When your loved one receives a dementia diagnosis, the world can suddenly feel upside down and out of kilter. Here, Charlie Hoare, Managing Director at Huntington & Langham Estate in Hindead, gives advice on handling a dementia diagnosis in a loved one.
Dementia Is A Journey
Dementia is a journey. It often starts in a dark, hostile place with a flimsy leaflet as a map and everyone assuming you know which way up to hold it. But you are not alone on this journey; there are various people and organisations that can be your companions along the way.
If you feel lost already, Alzheimer’s Society is a good place to start. Their website maps out all you need to know about dementia – from ‘signs and symptoms’ to an online shop with a whole host of helpful items, such as Velcro clothes by The ABLE Label that promote dignity and independence.
Understanding Dementia Can Be Overwhelming
Be wary of information overload though. Dementia is a huge topic that even dedicated researchers do not fully understand yet. If you do become overwhelmed, the brilliantly named Dementia Adventure has an invaluable free online dementia skills session called Mood & Motivation. You must attend their ‘Thinking Differently About Dementia’ first, but once you have, you will be scouring their website for other sessions to attend, not to mention their supported holidays.
Dementia Home Care Or A Dementia Care Home?
At some point you will decide how best to look after your loved one; either as an unpaid carer or enlisting the help of home care or a care home. Either way, you will likely feel a huge sense of responsibility for them, not to mention all the emotions that come along for the ride – guilt, loss, frustration, stress. There are no two ways about it, you need to look after yourself as well. This is easier said than done when you are also juggling the endless demands of your own life, but coaching is a concept that could help.
Coaching For Unpaid Carers
Coaching is currently growing in popularity way beyond the realms of sport where it is most associated with specialist coaches for eating, sleeping, and every other aspect of life. Coaching For Unpaid Carers is a refreshing resource that aims to empower people to live the life they choose. The ‘Stress Buster’ video on their website is worth a watch. But there are many local lifestyle coaches that may be able to support you. Aim to find a recommendation or contact a reputable agency.
Specialist Dementia Care Homes
Finally, there are specialist dementia care homes for any crises along your journey. In our experience at Langham Court, and despite promises they may have made to their loved ones, people either contact us at the beginning of their journey for reassurance that help is at hand when needed, or when they have reached a crossroads in their care due to a hospital admission, an incident at home or a discussion about the end of life with their GP or other family members.
Moving Into Care Is Not The End
People often feel as though moving into a care home is the end of their journey, but good care homes will work with you rather than replace you. For some it marks the beginning of a new journey, one where they remain part of the care provided but regain their relationship with their loved one. But everyone’s journey is unique, and you must find the support that suits you.
Charlie Hoare is the Managing Director of the Huntington & Langham Estate, which includes specialist dementia home, Langham Court. A fully accredited Butterfly model care home, Langham Court puts the individual at the heart of all of its decision making, ensuring both the home environment and care is tailored to care recipients’ personal preferences and needs.
If you’d like to discover more about Langham Court, please contact us