Getting Help If Dementia and Alzheimer’s Occurs

Dementia is affecting more and more people either personally or impacting on close friends or relations. Currently, there is no cure and two-thirds of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s disease other causes include:

  • Vascular dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • frontotemporal degeneration (FTD)

It can also occur as a combination of vascular dementia & Alzheimer’s disease but in all cases, the common denominator is the death of brain cells; whichever is contracted it can be extremely debilitating and stressful for all involved.

Each condition affects slightly different parts of the brain but in the most common – Alzheimer’s the location of the degeneration begins within the hippocampus, the area responsible for memory and learning.

In the early stages, symptoms can include;

  • Changes in mood or personality – They may become anxious, irritable or depressed. Many people become withdrawn and lose interest in activities and hobbies.
  • Lose items (for example, keys, glasses) around the house
  • Struggle to find the right word in a conversation or forget someone’s name
  • Forget about recent conversations or events
  • Get lost in a familiar place or on a familiar journey
  • Forget appointments or anniversaries.

In the later stages, symptoms tend to progress affecting:

  • Language– struggling to follow a conversation or repeating themselves
  • Visuospatial skills – problems judging distance or seeing objects in three dimensions; navigating stairs or parking the car become much harder
  • Concentrating, planning or organising – difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks (such as cooking a meal)
  • Orientation – becoming confused or losing track of the day or date.

To tell the difference between dementia and normal ageing, The Alzheimer’s Society has created a useful table to compare the symptoms of normal ageing and dementia which can be found here.

In the later stages of Dementia, an individual may not be able to care for themselves either physically or mentally. This can create a range of issues for family members and loved ones. There is help and support available, however, it is not well publicised. The information below will give you a starting point.

NHS Continuing Care

If an individual has long-term complex health needs they may qualify for continuing healthcare arranged and funded by the NHS.

To be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, the individual must be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals, who will take into account:

  • What help you need
  • How complex your needs are
  • How intense your needs can be
  • How unpredictable they are, including any risks to your health if the right care isn’t provided at the right time.

The eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare depends on your assessed needs, and not on any particular diagnosis or condition.

Looking at the assessment criteria the whole process is a complex procedure with a number of areas that can be up for scrutiny and open to the interpretation of ones needs, and the fluctuation of the severity of one’s condition based on the day(s) of the assessment(s) themselves. Given this, an organisation called Beacon has been set up to provide free independent advice on this topic.

You can visit the Beacon website here or call the free helpline on 0345 548 0300.

Social Services – support for Alzheimer’s & Dementia

The adult social services department of your local council can help with personal care and day-to-day needs.

Examples include:

  • carers to help you with washing and dressing
  • laundry services
  • meals on wheels
  • access to day centres

Social services are also able to put you in touch with other local services and support groups, much of which in this age of austerity is provided by charities. It is also worth contacting the Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK.

Paying for Care

Although NHS Continuing Care is not means-tested any help from the local authorities is and you will not be entitled to help with the cost of care from your local council if (at the time of writing 2018):

  • you have savings worth more than £23,250
  • you own your own property (this only applies if you’re moving into a care home)

You can ask your council for a financial assessment (means test) to check if you qualify for any help with costs and of course, can choose to pay for care yourself if you don’t want a financial assessment.

Social care is expensive for both home and residential care. Home care costs can easily mount up with to £11,000 per annum being pretty typical, while residential care costs of between £29,270 and £39,300 are normally quoted, bands.  The Money Advice Service has a very good advice page regarding the best options and this can be located here.

If you are concerned about this issue and want to prepare your finances in case you to require care in the future it is a good idea to seek the advice of a solicitor knowledgeable in this area. Many newspapers offered solutions do not work, however, things like a Trust will, and changes to the tenancy on your property are good places to start.

Having Powers of Attorney for both your property and finances as well as your health and wellbeing is also important in giving you the peace of mind of knowing that a trusted person can make decisions for you regarding these areas if you become incapable yourself.

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