This week, Alzheimer’s Society is highlighting dementia with its annual Dementia Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to talk about this disease and how we can help those suffering with it.
Dementia now affects 850,000 people in the UK, and the numbers are sadly rising because we’re living longer. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia, and two-thirds of people with dementia are women. It’s estimated that by 2021, the number of people with dementia in the UK will have increased to around 1 million.
As stated by Alzheimer’s Society, the word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they’ve become severe enough to affect daily life. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but not the only one. Other types include vascular dementia and mixed dementia, and the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) called dementia the ‘most significant’ health crisis of the 21st century. ADI figures show that someone in the world develops the disease every three seconds.
The topic of dementia is often a sensitive one, but unfortunately it’s something that most people have had to deal with in some capacity. One in six people over the age of 80 suffer with the disease, and it’s been estimated that 90,000 sufferers could be misdiagnosed. That’s why it’s vital that we not only learn how to treat the disease, and ease the burden of those suffering, but also raise awareness of this common but misunderstood condition.
It’s crucial that care for dementia patients is readily available across the UK and of high quality, and that care workers treat the individual in a comforting, respectful and beneficial manner. With an expected increase in the number of dementia diagnoses, care workers are likely to be expected to upskill in the areas of dementia awareness and treatment.
NCFE has a number of qualifications and standalone units to support learners in their understanding of dementia care. These include spotting the symptoms, recognising and understanding the behaviour associated with dementia, and a range of techniques to care for and deal with the disease.
Our Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Dementia Care helps learners prepare to enter, or progress within, employment within the Health or Social Care sector where an understanding of the disease and the care of people with dementia is required. It aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the principles of caring for people with dementia, including person-centred care, the influence of positive communication methods, issues relating to the use of medication for people with dementia, and the importance of providing appropriate activities.
At NCFE we fully support Dementia Awareness Week. Improvements in diagnosis and awareness are fundamental, as are improvements in the accessibility and quality of care for those suffering from the disease, and our qualifications have been specifically designed to contribute to this.