Dementia – the hidden world
Today’s post comes Roland Millward of CHS Healthcare. You can find out more about the author in the bio at the foot of this post.
For this blog post I have decided on the title “Dementia – The Hidden World” because I believe that for many of us we fail to see and recognize the world in which those living with dementia and their families live. When we see someone in a wheelchair who has severe physical problems perhaps it is easier to imagine the care that person needs as well as the support the family also requires to help them cope.
Often with dementia a short time spent with the sufferer might not indicate to us the amount of care that they require and the outstanding amount of patience it takes to cope from their loved ones. There are also perhaps many with dementia who live on their own and have little contact with people and so their world is totally hidden to us.
In many places in this modern world often people don’t know who their neighbours are and it leaves many elderly people cut off from a lot of human contact, particularly if they don’t have family members nearby or a group of friends. As people get older, retire, become widowed and many of their friends have died or become incapacitated their contacts become much more limited. With such people the onset of dementia can be totally hidden from us and they are left alone in their own homes to suffer in silence. This is probably true too of many other conditions and it means that there are perhaps many thousands if not millions of people who are lonely and hidden away within society.
What can we do? Starting with our own families we need to make sure that we keep in touch. If we are separated by many miles then at least regular phone calls should be a priority. If you have someone locally who can call in on them, maybe one of their friends it would be good to also contact them for honest feedback on how your family members are.
What about our neighbours? Look out for those that are vulnerable and chat to them. Find out if they have a family that is looking after their interests. Enquire if they also have friends and get regular association with others. This is not being nosey and you don’t have to interrogate people to find out as these are things that will come up in general conversation. If it seems that someone is really not coping well it would be in order to call social services and raise your concerns and to make sure that appropriate care can be offered.
It is sad to see so many lonely people and with dementia this can be an even worse situation. All of us can play a part in helping to open up this hidden world and to make sure that people are not suffering needlessly. It does not have to take up hours of our time, just a few minutes spent with someone can make a big difference and particularly if there are many others doing the same.
What suggestions do you have to help those in our communities with dementia? Please leave a comment below.