Understanding the impact of dementia

“Anne was my friend from childhood, a kind caring lady who loved and cared deeply for her family and grandchildren. We kept in touch at Christmas and birthdays… Then I remember seeing her for the first time in a while and she didn’t recognise or know me and witnessing the struggle that her family were facing now caring for a cognitively challenged parent was overwhelming.” 

arjo dementia wellness

The term ‘dementia’ describes a set of clinical symptoms that include loss of concentration and memory problems, mood and behaviour changes and problems with communicating and reasoning. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease), a series of small strokes or other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.

We know that dementia is a global issue with 47.5 million people worldwide living with it, and this number is expected to rise to more than 150 million by 20501.  In the UK, it is estimated that approximately 25% of beds in hospitals are occupied by people living with dementia, with their length of stay often longer than for people without dementia, with delayed discharge potentially an issue2. 

The annual cost of dementia to the UK economy is estimated at £26.3 billion3:

  • £11.6bn on unpaid care
  • £5.8bn on individual social care
  • £4.5bn on state social care
  • £4.3bn on health care
  • £100m on other costs.

People living with dementia want to stay in their own homes and retain as much independence as possible, but as the condition progresses full-time care may be needed and they move into care and nursing homes4. 60% of people receiving home care services are living with dementia5, and 311,720 people with dementia are living in care homes6.

In 2015, almost 70,000 UK citizens died from dementia-related conditions, and it is projected 1.2 million of us will be living with it by 20407. Many individuals like Anne are relatively happy and unaware of their decline, but the impact on their relatives and friends is always profound. It is life-changing, and not just for the person, which is why dementia has been recognised in the NHS 5 Year Forward View8 in relation to getting serious about prevention, supporting those with dementia, supporting caregivers and developing new care models. 

As her disease progresses, Anne’s care needs increase – as does the level of stimulation she needs, to reduce anxiety caused by a world she no longer understands. Music, reminiscing, rocking movement9 and photos have become important. The loss of more recent memories means this sort of stimulation creates an environment where she feels “safe”. 

Helping people with dementia feel safe by providing soothing music and tactile stimulation can have a beneficial effect on their behaviour and quality of life.9

Click below for more information in how the fully-automated Wellness Nordic Relax Chair can help provide an environment where people with dementia feel safe.

Click here to book a free calming sensory experience

1. Public Health England: Health matters: midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk, 22 March 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-midlife-approaches-to-reduce-dementia-risk/health-matters-midlife-approaches-to-reduce-dementia-risk) [Accessed 13/08/2018]
2. Alzheimer's Research UK Dementia Statistics Hub https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/hospitals/ [Accessed 13/08/2018]
3. Public Health England: Health matters: midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk, 22 March 2016,  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-midlife-approaches-to-reduce-dementia-risk/health-matters-midlife-approaches-to-reduce-dementia-risk [Accessed 13/08/2018]
4. Alzheimer's Research UK Dementia Statistics Hub https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/care-services/ [Accessed 13/08/2018]
5. Carter, D (2015) Dementia and Homecare: Driving Quality and Innovation by the UK Homecare Association as cited in https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/care-services/ [Accessed 13/08/2018]
6. Prince, M et al (2014) Dementia UK: Update Second Edition report produced by King’s College London and the London School of Economics for the Alzheimer’s Society as cited in https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/care-services/ [Accessed 13/08/2018]
7. Janet Street Porter After the surprising results of research into dementia this week, it's clear we need to assess our priorities https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/research-dementia-funding-ageing-memory-tests-symptoms-arts-culture-a8358116.html [Accessed 13/08/2018] 
8. The NHS 5 Year Forward View (2014) https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf [Accessed 13/08/2018]
9. Livingston et al. Health Technology Assessment, Vol. 18:39, 2014, NHE, UK; Blackburn & Bradshaw, J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2014 21(10); Watson & Wells, Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen, Nov./Dec. 1998; Hvolby & Bilenberg N. Nord J Psychiatry. 2011 65(2).