Dementia is a progressive illness of the brain resulting in the loss of functioning such as memory, reasoning, communication skills and activities in daily living.
The chances of developing dementia increase with age, but some people under the age of 65 develop this condition which in turn causes difficulties for their families and their employment. As the illness progresses people become more dependent on health and social care services.
Support from local services and organisations is available to help you.
The Older People's Mental Health Service offers a range of support, including:
- Initial assessment of memory problems at the Memory Clinic
- Medication for those who are eligible
- Psychological support for patients and carers
- Carers Education Course (six week course run two-three times a year) provides information about dementia, strategies to help carers relate to people with dementia, financial and legal advice about planning for the future
- Therapeutic groups for dementia sufferers
- Advice and information including signposting to other services
- Crisis support - available 9am til 7pm week days, and 9am til 5pm week ends
- Ongoing support and monitoring
For more information, contact the Adult Care team on 0118 937 3747
Older People's Mental Health Liaison Team
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust works with inpatients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital who need help to manage their mental health and help them to access appropriate ongoing care or treatment from mental health services. The service focuses on older people who:
- have dementia or delirium
- have an existing mental health problem and are currently in hospital with a physical illness
- have been diagnosed with a physical illness and need some emotional support to adjust to this
They also provide support, information and advice to families and carers.
Contact the Older People’s Mental Health Liaison Team, Royal Berkshire Hospital, London Road, Reading, RG1 5AN. Call 0300 365 0300
Information and advice about living with and caring for someone with dementia. Visit www.alzheimers.org.uk or call the helpline on 0300 222 1122
Alzheimer's Society Reading Branch
The Alzheimer’s Society offers people with dementia and their carers information and practical, emotional support by a Dementia Support Worker. They also facilitate services for people with dementia - activity group, a befriending service and Singing for the Brain (see related links on this page).
Please contact the Reading office on 0118 959 6482 for more information. or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Page last reviewed / updated - 13/08/2020
The Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) is a social movement with one simple aim: to bring about a society-wide response to dementia. It encourages and supports local communities and organisations to take practical action to enable people to live well with dementia.
Organisations, businesses and groups sign up as a member of the DAA by thinking of some simple steps that would make them more dementia friendly, and these steps form their action plan.
Members include local businesses, faith groups, schools, housing schemes, libraries, museums, shops, transport providers and health and social care providers. Anyone can help!
For more information and to find out how to become a member, please contact your local DAA Coordinator, Micheel Berry at email@example.com
The Dementia Friendly Guide to Reading lists a number of local services and activities that people can access with their carers and friends. You can also download the DAA guidance notes below for information.
Free online courses for carers of people with dementia: Reducing isolation and promote coping during current restrictions on social activities (COVID-19/Coronavirus)
In the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency situation and recent advice for people over 70, and those with serious health conditions to stop non-essential contact with others for 12 weeks, it is easy to see how carers of people living with dementia and their families may become socially isolated.
We feel that our free online course for carers of people with dementia may be a valuable resource in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community. Without the support of family, friends and social groups, carers may feel increasingly isolated and distressed. Our courses, Dementia care: Living well as dementia progresses and Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well may be able to offer support during these uncertain and difficult times in two key ways:
1) Enable carers to stay connected to others. This includes other carers who may be in a similar situation and also health and social care professionals who can also share advice or support. Family, friends and neighbours may also find the courses useful to support carers if they are unable to visit in person.
2) Access useful tips and hints from our articles and videos on recognising their own support needs as carers and how to manage these. The articles also signpost to a range of online resources and helplines which can provide further information and support.
In addition, with restrictions on formal education and training, and health and social care professionals also facing isolation restrictions, our courses could also be a helpful resource for practitioners and students.
The courses are both currently open. We are currently exploring options to keep the courses open for longer and support as many people as possible.
We hope you can share the link to the course with as many people as possible.
How can you help people living with Dementia and memory problems to understand, remember and follow the COVID 19 advice?
Tips to help your resident living with dementia and memory problems
- Some people with dementia have difficulty understanding complex instructions about selfisolation or handwashing – keeping information simple, accessible and repeatable is key. Give the person time to process what you have said and respond
- Use posters and reminders in the home. Pictures and words are best. Put them on the doors, next to the sink and in places that are regularly passed. Point out the poster and make a clear statement ‘We need to wash our hands’.
Keep communication as clear as possible and give positive instructions ‘Shall we go here?’ instead of ‘Don’t go there’.
Link washing hands with a song, music or story. Pay close attention to details such as how the water feels, the smell of the soap and memories linked to times when you wash hands (work, school, hospitals).
The person with dementia is likely to mirror your mood and behaviour. They will pick up on anxiety and panic.
Try to stay calm, smile, matter of fact and upbeat/positive when talking to them. Even If you are wearing a mask the person can see the smile in your eyes.
Limit access to the news, radio and conversations about covid-19 and the risks. This heightens anxiety and is hard to explain.
- Keep the mood light and encourage.
- If a person cannot be encouraged to remain in their room; -
- Close other’s bedroom doors, unless this poses a risk, as they are less likely to open a closed door.
- Can a portion of the unit be given over to them so they have the space to move around?
- If you are trying to get the person to stop doing something (i.e. walking), you may have to walk with them and match their speed, then gradually change the rhythm or pattern rather than opposing them
- Do they have access to individualised music in their room (such as Playlist for Life)?
- Do they have access to a TV in their room and programmes on that do not need too much understanding of language? Be careful of having the news on or programmes with distressing content that they may interpret as real.
- Do they have access to a DVD player and DVDs of familiar and favourite films, sports they like that they can watch in their room?
- If relatives and friends visits are not able to visit or visiting is limited in the care home – try and encourage frequent phone calls, the use of technology (e.g. facetime or similar platforms) to help improve communication between families.
- People with dementia are much more prone to develop delirium (a confusional state), if they develop an infection. If you notice changes in levels of confusion or unusual behaviour. Seek medical advice if you think they are showing symptoms – NHS 111 or phone the GP. I
- If you have any queries or require support with your resident/s, please contact the Care Home Mental Health Nurse via the Covid19 care home Advice line
Wokingham: 07824 456216
Reading: 07900 364206
West Berkshire: 07867 978349
Last updated: 30/04/2020
m4d Radio is a group of 5 themed radio stations available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year playing music that evokes memories.
You can choose an era and play your favourite tunes:
Meri Yaadain is a not for profit Community Interest Group involved in supporting people with dementia and their families and carers.
They have produced a number of useful resources to help raise awareness amongst BAME groups on the topic of dementia.
This information has been prepared by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
and is for patients in mid-life, outlining ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia in later-life.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a progressive condition effecting a person’s brain and cognition, to the point where their ability to live without assistance day-to-day is impaired. There are lots of different types of dementia, but the most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.
How common is dementia?
There are currently over 850,000 people living in the UK with dementia, and the number is rising. It is most commonly diagnosed in people aged over 65, although it is possible to develop the condition earlier, where it is termed young onset dementia.
What causes dementia?
The different types of dementia have different underlying causes, but all lead to the loss of the cells and connections within the brain. In Alzheimer’s dementia, for example, the cells die as a result of an abnormal build-up of protein, whereas in vascular dementia, the cells are damaged as the result of a loss of blood supply, such as in strokes or transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs).
What can I do to reduce my risk of developing dementia?
Although there are some forms of dementia which have underlying genetic causes, there is increasing evidence that lifestyle modifications in middle age can reduce your risk of developing dementia in older age. Whilst the earlier a person makes these changes the better, it is never too late in life to make alterations.
Smoking can increase your risk of developing dementia by around 30-50%. This is both as a direct result of toxin-induced oxidative stress and inflammation – which is associated with Alzheimer’s dementia – but also indirectly. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of strokes and TIAs, which can lead to vascular dementia. If you stop smoking, your overall risk of developing dementia gradually returns to that seen in people who have never smoked. If you would like to try to stop smoking, there are support services available both at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, but also in the community. For more information, you can visit:
Alcohol consumption in excess of 14 units/week can lead to an increased risk of dementia. In the case of significant alcohol intake (>50 units/week for men, >35 units/week for women), this risk is heightened through alcohol-related brain damage. As with smoking, this can be the direct result of the toxicity of alcohol, but also via indirect routes such as thiamine deficiency, or the increased risk of stroke and heart disease. The provision of alcohol support services varies throughout the region, and your GP will be able to help direct you to appropriate help if you would like help with stopping drinking.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and regular activity can reduce your risk of developing both dementia, and other conditions which can increase dementia risk such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, stroke, and heart disease. Recommended weekly exercise levels are:
- 150 minutes/week of moderate exercise such as brisk walking, or
- 75 minutes/week of vigorous exercise such as running
Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is also important. More advice on this can be found at:
Keeping your mind active
There is increasing evidence that maintaining an active and stimulated brain can reduce your chances of developing dementia in future. Being socially active and talking, playing or listening to music, board games and puzzles, all stimulate multiple areas of the brain and require concentration. These activities are felt likely to help reduce your risk of dementia in future.
Is there anything else I can do?
Since other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension can lead to increased risks of stroke and heart disease, and – in turn – dementia, trying to ensure that these illnesses well-treated if present can be beneficial. If you do not have these conditions, are aged between 40-74, then you should be invited to a health check with your GP every 5 years. Attending these check-ups will increase the chance of early detection of any underlying illnesses, and hence early intervention to reduce the risk of future complications such as dementia.
You can also get further information on dementia from
The Alzheimer’s Society
Helpline: 0300 222 1122
Telephone: 0207 6974160
Berkshire Age UK
Telephone: 0118 959 4242
Roya Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
London Road, Reading RG1 5AN
Telephone 0118 322 5111
Written by: Dr Daniel Johnson
Date: July 2020