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Importance of care for Gloucestershire's 4,000 dementia sufferers

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: May 06, 2013

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REMEMBERING to eat or how to brush your teeth are some of the more important things in life that dementia sufferers can forget.

There are 4,000 dementia sufferers in Gloucestershire, needing social care at home.

Roy Bell, 92, and his wife, Peggy, of Bishop's Cleeve, both have mixed dementia to varying degrees.

Roy recalls being inspired to join the RAF after his dad took him to the cinema to watch a George Formby film.

Peggy, 88, remembers her mum not being there to wave her off to school and having to pick up sausages from the butchers.

The couple, who live in Bishop's Cleeve, have each other – but rely on support from a vast network of family and care workers to keep them healthy.

One of their visitors is Caroline Stone, a dementia adviser working for the Alzheimer's Society.

She has been visiting Peggy and Roy for around 18 months.

"Sometimes it can be very upsetting for them as they want to be independent," she said.

"They have each other, but still need help. They are just about managing on their own.

"Minimalism is very important in dementia care. Eating is the single most important thing. It is common for people with dementia not to want to eat and then lose weight rapidly, bringing on other health issues.

"Peggy has lost a lot of weight because she thinks she is eating well, but actually eats very little. Routine is very important and meal times should be maintained.

"A family sitting down together to eat encourages people with dementia to eat well. They tend to mirror the actions of other people."

Carers Gloucestershire, Village Agents, Memory Managers, GPs, occupational therapists and dental hygienists form a team of social care for dementia patients.

"Dental hygiene is also a big issue with dementia," said Caroline. "They will forget what a toothbrush is. In the later stages of dementia, they can use all sorts of things to try and brush their teeth as they do not recognise a toothbrush."

Peggy and Roy have pull cords in their sheltered accommodation and are checked up on by a warden daily.

"I get upset because I can't do the things I once could," said Peggy, who used to run the Shakespeare Inn in Cheltenham with Roy in the 1970s.

"I never want to lose my independence."

The Alzheimer's Society Gloucestershire team of staff and volunteers provides free support and information to anyone affected by dementia.

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  • Hadagmaja  |  May 07 2013, 1:10AM

    Dementia is a horrible disease and many sufferers get distressed at not being understood or being lost. Sufferers can often remember even the smallest detail if things 50 years ago but situations 50 minutes ago are forgotten. Talking about their memories is sometimes the only thing they can smile about.