Tag Archives: alzheimers

Fight Dementia

On Saturday I’ll be going for a walk, and I need your help.

With me will be – at least – sixteen members of my family, all doing the Alzheimer’s memory walk in remembrance of my Dad.

Amazingly we’ve already beaten our target of raising £500 for the Alzheimer’s Society. The charity helps people with dementia and their families to deal with the effects that this horrible, incurable disease has. They also help fund research into the condition in the hopes that we might find a cure one day.

However, I want to raise much more than that. Here’s why…

Figures compiled just two years ago show that while combined government and charitable funding for cancer research reached £544 million, just £90m was spent on dementia research. The figures for coronary heart disease and stroke were £166m and £56m respectively. In contrast, the combined health and social care costs for dementia totalled £11.6 billion – more than cancer (£5bn), stroke (£2.9bn) and heart disease (£2.5bn) combined.

Dementia is a devastating incurable disease that causes a huge amount of suffering for families affected. Unless you’ve been through it it’s hard to articulate how painful it can be to experience.

We need more funding for the invaluable support the Alzheimer’s Society provides, and for the scientific research to end this disease once and for all.

Will you help me, by sponsoring me and my kids, Mom, sisters, brother-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunties and cousins to do the memory walk this Saturday and help us fight Dementia?

Donate here.

Talking about it, because it helps.

A young and chubby me with my Dad in a pub in Cornwall
A young and chubby me with my Dad in a pub in Cornwall

It’s my Dad’s birthday today – he’s reached 57. Now, I don’t usually talk about my Dad but as Linda Jones has helped me to understand a bit more, talking about it is good (check out Linda’s Someone Once Told Me).

My Dad has Pick’s disease, a form of dementia that is very similar to Alzheimer’s disease. He’s been in care homes for the past few years, some worse than others. Thankfully he’s now in a home specifically built for dementia sufferers and his care has improved dramatically as a result.

I want to tell you what dementia does though, and why it’s important that we overcome the stigma that some people still attach to it and make sure that it gets the attention it deserves.

In February last year (in what turned into a pretty awful two weeks) my Dad was taken to hospital after becoming very ill. While there he suffered a number of fits and early one Saturday morning my Mom was called by a doctor who said that should he have another fit there was a 50% chance that he would survive it, because his body was so weak. My Mom had to make the decision that should he lose consciousness he wouldn’t be resuscitated. The whole family spent the weekend at his bed side hoping, and praying, that he’d be okay. A week later he was finally well enough to return to the care home.

So this weekend we all went to see him in the care home to take birthday cards and some of his favourite Turkish Delights. At one point my sister mentioned that before that last year’s scare we all agreed that, as harsh as it sounds, it would be better for him not to live with dementia. Yet as soon as we thought we might loose him all we wanted was to see him get better.

While we were at the care home on Sunday and with all his family around him, he had another fit. Honestly, I was petrified. I tried hard not to let myself get upset for fear of the domino affect on my Mom and sister. The nurses tended to him and he was thankfully okay. They later told us that the last one he’d had was almost exactly a year ago.

It reminded me just how much of a strain it can be to see a member of your family suffer from dementia. To me, it feels like my Dad has already gone but that we haven’t had chance to say good bye yet. It’s painful to look at the frail shell that physically is your father but mentally a complete stranger.

Sometimes I like to think that seeing as my Dad is a young dementia sufferer there might just be a cure before his time is up, and I’ll get my Dad back. I know that won’t happen unless dementia gets the attention, and funding it needs though. Organisations like the Alzheimer’s Research Trust are looking for ways to combat dementia in it’s various forms but compared to cancer there is a massive shortfall in the amount of money spent on dementia research.

I know there’s a ‘crunch’ on but if you have a few quid in your pocket, will you do me and millions of others a favour? Give it to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust and help us to fight this horrible disease.

Tagging Alzheimer’s Sufferers

Having a Dad with Pick’s disease my eye was caught this morning by a headline from the BBC, charity supports dementia tagging, which reports the news that the Alzheimer’s society has given its approval to the use of electronic tagging of dementia sufferers.

I knew why instantly without reading the article – my Dad used to wander around himself and with him being a bit of a rambler he was more inclined to do so.

The idea itself sounds to me like a good one. If sufferers walk off it can be hard to track them down. We gave my Dad a cheap mobile phone so that we could call him to find out where he was. However, more often than not he’d forget it or switch it off. Even then, he rarely realised his pocket was ringing and would probably have trouble answering it despite how easy we tried to make it. In that situation a tag would have allowed us to even use a mobile phone to find out where he is and pick up him. I remember one morning, driving around our village looking for him because he’d gone out when he was supposed to be at home waiting to be picked up for his visit to the day centre.

There is another big concern though. The normal dangers of everyday life, such as traffic, are magnified with dementia sufferers. One particular example that comes to mind is the time my Dad stepped out in front of a moving car because he recognised the driver. She had to break suddenly to avoid hitting him. My Dad was completely oblivious to the danger of doing something like that, such was the effect of the disease. A tag would do nothing to allay fears of similar or more disasterous events taking place.

An idea did come to my mind though. A tagging system could work very well in a ‘controlled community’ – a sort of cross between a care home and sheltered housing. With care homes, patients are very restricted in their movements. Using tags could allow patients to wander more within a larger space whilst close enough to supervision to enable the level of care needed. In a such a place, technology such as RFID could be used instead of GPS, tracking movement in and out of individual rooms and proximity to the perimeter of the ‘community’.