What is dementia?
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 have 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. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.
For more information please visit the Alzheimer's Society's 'What is dementia' webpages.
Diagnosis of dementia
A diagnosis of dementia may create very mixed emotions. Coming to terms with it, making decisions and planning ahead are all part of living well with dementia.
Getting information and support when you need it from people working in health and social care as well as community organisations can make a real difference.
In Harrow, when you are diagnosed with dementia, Harrow Memory Services will offer you information relevant to the stage of your condition, including:
- Your type of dementia and how it will affect you.
- Any further tests, treatment, activities or therapies that might help you.
- Who will provide your care and how to contact them, including the professional who will coordinate your care.
- Support groups and charities that can help you.
This information should be explained to you and given to you in writing. You can ask for it to be provided in a format that you find easy to understand. If you don’t need this information straight away you can ask for it when you do.
Support for people with dementia
Accessing services and support at the right time can make a great difference, both to the person with dementia and for the people who care for them including family and friends.
Harrow Council currently has two dementia hubs that provide a weekly drop in service. They are:
- Every Tuesday from 10am to 12 midday at the Bridge, Christchurch Avenue, Harrow, HA3 5BD. For more information download the Harrow Dementia Hub leaflet
- Every Thursday from 10am to 12 midday at Milmans Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Grove Avenue, Pinner, HA5 5PF. For more information download the Annie's Place poster.
If you are worried about your memory, make an appointment to see your GP. The earlier you seek help, the sooner you can get information, advice and support. Your GP will listen to your concerns and possibly arrange for further investigation. You may be referred to the Memory Assessment Service for assessment where a formal diagnosis can be made.
If you would like more information, whether you have been diagnosed with dementia or you are a carer for someone with this condition, visit Alzheimer's society website.
If you are concerned about memory problems or would like to know more about the symptoms of dementia, visit Alzheimer's society website - memory section.
Looking after someone with dementia
Many carers don't identify themselves as carers but if you care for someone with an illness, disability or is frail we can offer information and advice on how we can help with your caring role.
Sources of support
- National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22 for information and advice about dementia.
- Dementia UK is a national charity that aims to improve the quality of life for people with dementia. It offers advice and support to families who are living with dementia through its Admiral Nurses, who are registered nurses and dementia experts.
- Alzheimer's Research UK carries out dementia research but also answers questions about dementia and dementia research, including how you and your family and friends can get involved. The charity's infoline – on 0300 111 5 111 – can provide help and guidance.
- Age UK has advice on a range of topics, including advance care planning, benefits and choosing a care home, as well as information on local activities and services for those with dementia. It runs a free national helpline on 0800 055 6112.
- The Carers Trust provides information and advice on its website for carers, including how to get support for yourself.
- Carers UK is a national charity for carers, providing information and advice from benefits to practical support.
Based on individual circumstances, the fully trained team at Access Harrow can offer guidance on appropriate next steps. This could include signposting to appropriate information and advice resources, community services, other council departments and/or referral to adult social care e.g. to assess people’s needs including carers and their eligibility for publicly funded care and support.
Download Harrow CCG and Harrow Council Joint Dementia Strategy 2018 – 2021