September is World Alzheimer’s Month!
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease, named after the doctor who first described it, Alois Alzheimer, is a physical disease that affects the brain. There are more than 520,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s disease. During the course of the disease, proteins build up in the brain to form structures called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’. This leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue.
People with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of some important chemicals in their brain. These chemical messengers help to transmit signals around the brain. When there is a shortage of them, the signals are not transmitted as effectively.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are generally mild to start with, but they get worse over time and start to interfere with daily life.
There are some common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is important to remember that everyone is unique. Two people with Alzheimer’s are unlikely to experience the condition in exactly the same way.
For most people with Alzheimer’s, the earliest symptoms are memory lapses. In particular, they may have difficulty recalling recent events and learning new information. These symptoms occur because the early damage in Alzheimer’s is usually to a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which has a central role in day-to-day memory. Memory for life events that happened a long time ago is often unaffected in the early stages of the disease.
Memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease increasingly interferes with daily life as the condition progresses. The person may:
- Lose items (e.g. 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.
Dementia is not a natural, inevitable part of ageing. Dementia is a disease. Furthermore, if a close family member develops dementia, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will too.
There are many ways you can significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia:
Adopt a healthy lifestyle…
- Eat a healthy diet
A low-fat, high-fibre diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and wholegrains.
- Staying Active
Exercise regularly. If you are unable to exercise other activities like gardening and housework can help keep you healthy.
keep your heart healthy with Bracknell Forest Leisure. To see what’s on and where visit: http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/leisureandculture
- Don’t drink too much alcohol
Stick to the recommended daily limits for alcohol consumption (3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women).
- Stop smoking
If you smoke, stopping smoking can reduce your risk of dementia. Smoking can cause your arteries to narrow increasing you blood pressure
For more information on quitting search ‘Smoke Free Berkshire’.
Tel: 0800 6226360, text QUIT to 66777 or visit: www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com
- Lower your blood pressure…
High blood pressure in mid-life significantly increases the likelihood of developing Dementia in later life.
The Dementia Advisory Service
If you are worried about your memory problems, but do not have a diagnosis of dementia you will need to contact your GP in the first instance.
The Dementia Advisory Service can provide advice and support for those people newly diagnosed with dementia, their carers, family and friends. This information includes:
- Living with dementia
- Local support services
- Getting a break
- Legal planning
- Support for carers
- National support services
- Money matters
If you would like more information please contact the Dementia Adviser by:
Tel: 01344 823220 or visit the Dementia Directory at www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/Dementia-directory.pdf
Bracknell Forest Dementia Action Alliance (DAA)
Bracknell Forest Council is a member of the Bracknell Forest DAA, which was established in October 2014.
The Bracknell Forest DAA works with local public sector organisations, local businesses, retailers and services to facilitate an improved understanding of dementia. This helps to ensure that people with dementia and their carers feel welcome and safe when using their local community facilities, and enable them to live well and independently with dementia at home for as long as possible.
The Alliance’s aims include:
- Sharing of information and good practice amongst members
- Having a voice within the new town centre ‘Regeneration project’
- Identifying future work, sharing of resources and working in partnership.
For more information please visit:
Bracknell Forest Safe Places Scheme
The safety of everyone in the community is a top priority in Bracknell Forest. As such, the Council, in partnership with local businesses, runs the Safe Place scheme.
The scheme supports a number of local shops, businesses and amenities within Bracknell Forest that people can access for support when they are out and about. This is if they are feeling anxious, intimidated, unsafe, disorientated, confused or vulnerable in the community.
Those local shops, businesses and amenities that are part of the scheme display a sticker to let people know that they provide a temporary safe place. They will help to access support for them by telephone.
The scheme, which has been running since 2010, has been re-launched in 2015 to offer support to:
- People with learning disabilities
- People with autism
- People with dementia
- People with physical disabilities
- People with mental health issues
- People who are hard of hearing
- People who are partially sighted
- Older adults
- Young people who go missing, are at risk of CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) and children with additional needs/disabilities
Any person who would like to use the scheme can carry a free Safe Place Card which has their name on it as well as the name and contact numbers of up to two people. These could be their support worker, family member, carer or parent. Staff working in the premises can then telephone one of the contacts to help if required, or simply allow the person to stay on the premises until the person feels less anxious.
The person does not need to produce the card in order for them to use the premises as a safe place.
If you would like to participate in the scheme, please contact Alison Koen, Development Manager at Bracknell Forest Council on 01344 352000 or Email: [email protected]. More information can also be found at www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/safeplace
What you can do about dementia
Dementia Friends is about giving more people an understanding of dementia and the small things that could make a difference to people living in their community.
It makes such a huge difference to people with dementia if those around them know what dementia is and how it might affect them.
Introducing Dementia Friends
Dementia Friends Champions are volunteers who talk to people about being a Dementia Friend in their communities after attending a training course and receiving ongoing support.
A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action – anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend.
Join Dementia Friends
Join Dementia Friends today and help create more communities that are dementia friendly. Go to www.dementiafriends.org.uk to find out more about Dementia Friends or to volunteer as a Dementia Friends Champion.