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Dementia Education Online
 
 

What is Dementia?

 

iv. Impact of Dementia


Aim

The aim of this content focus area is to provide an overview of the impact of dementia from the perspective of persons with a diagnosis of dementia and their family or carers.


Outcome

By the end of the content focus area the participant will have an awareness of the importance of understanding dementia from the perspective of persons with a diagnosis of dementia and their family or carers.


Impact of Dementia

Dementia can be considered as a medical condition and presents with a range of signs and symptoms, some of which include:

  • memory loss
  • language difficulties
  • difficulty with understanding
  • disorientation
  • changes in mood, behaviour or personality
  • hallucinations or delusions
  • wandering behaviours [1].

Defining the impact of dementia using this framework is considered a "bio-medical" approach to, or model of dementia care. More recently, understanding about dementia from a social perspective has been emphasised [2 and 3]. An aspect of dementia which is important to consider when working within the "social model" of dementia, is the person's biography and their descriptions of the impact of dementia on their day-to-day lives.

Objective signs or symptoms of dementia can be assessed and measured. However, to ensure the needs of a person with dementia and his/ her carer are met, healthcare professionals need to understand what impact dementia is having on their day-to-day lives.

References and Resources

  1. Alzheimer's Australia 2007b, Beginning the Conversation: Addressing dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, Canberra, http://www.alzheimers.org.au/common/files/NAT/20061101-ATSI-Begining-Conversation-IndigenousForumReport.pdf.

  2. Access Economics 2006, Dementia Incidence and Prevalence among People who do not Speak English at Home, Access Economics in Association with Alzheimer's Australia, Canberra, http://www.alzheimers.org.au/common/files/NAT/20061124_Nat_AE_FullDemPrevAustDoNotSpkEngHome.pdf.

  3. Journey of No Return 2006, Four Corners, ABC, 30/10/2006, http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1774375.htm.

Activity 5: Reflections on the Experiences of a Person with Dementia and a Carer


 

1. How does it feel to have dementia? Please watch and listen to one man's story.

 

2. What are the challenges of caring for someone with dementia? Please watch and listen to Ken and Joan's story.

The purpose of watching and listening to these two stories from both a person with dementia and a carer is to understand dementia from the alternative perspective to the medical model of care in dementia.

After watching and listening to these stories consider the questions below to gain an understanding about the impact of dementia on individuals and their carers.


Question 1: List the medical needs you can identify from hearing these two stories

a) The person with dementia
      

a) The carer
      


Question 2: List the social needs you can identify from hearing these two stories

a) The person with dementia
      

a) The carer
      

Resources: [2] and [3]


Activity 6: Reflections on Own Experiences to Understand Dementia from the Perspective of the Person with Dementia and His/ Her Carer

Consider another experience, from your clinical practice, a personal experience, a film you have a seen, or a book you have read, which involved caring for somebody with dementia.

Write a summary of this experience and reflect on the important issues about this experience using the prompts below:

  1. Was the person representative of the national and global trends and patterns?
    1. Age?
    2. Ethnicity?
    3. Use of health care services?
    4. Socio-economic group?

  2. Was the dementia diagnosed?
    1. What type of dementia did the person have?
    2. What were the distinguishing pathophysiological features of this dementia?

  3. Did the person have special needs because of their association with a group who's needs are not met by mainstream services?
    1. What were these needs?
    2. How could these needs be better met?

  4. What was the person's experience of this dementia?
    1. How did they feel?
    2. What were the family's reactions?
    3. What were the significant aspects of the dementia impacting on the individual?

Commentary on Responses to Activities 5 and 6
By reviewing the content of the video clips and reflecting on your own experiences, you have had the opportunity to gain some insights into the experience of dementia from the perspective of a person with dementia and his/ her carer.

This is very important work to do when planning care for persons with dementia and their carers. Without these considerations we have a tendency to focus on the medical signs and symptoms of dementia and limit our therapeutic interventions to pharmacological treatments. By including consideration of the social impact of dementia we broaden our professional view about what dementia is and we can develop a range of other therapeutic strategies which will enhance the quality of life for a person with dementia and his/ her carer.



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