On World Alzheimer’s Day, we asked our Senior Community Social Care Supervisor, Mary Tuffy* to share her tips and experience about caring for people living with dementia in their own home.
There are 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland of which Alzheimer’s thought to be the most common form. This number is expected to double by 2045.
Tom Kitwood who has conducted extensive research in this area, defines dementia as ‘remembering yesterday and living to-day’.
“Years ago, there was a stigma around a person with dementia and the trend was to hide them away. Nowadays the objective is for people to live as independently as possible” Mary said.
Mary went on to share practical tips from her 30 years of supporting clients with dementia, and their families:
Here is a real life example of a person with dementia living at home, and whose family have safety concerns:
Mary encountered a lady with dementia stepped out onto the road, potentially endangering herself, during her daily walk to the newsagent. Her husband’s inclination was to put his wife’s safety first, which led to him suggesting she be “locked” in the home whenever he was out. Instead of feeling protected which was the intention, the lady felt like she had a babysitter.
The lady did not agree to the suggestion of having the newspaper delivered instead. She enjoyed her daily excursion, and having a chat when buying the paper. She didn’t like walking there with her husband, as he outpaced her and would get impatient while she chatted to staff in the shop.
The solution that was acceptable to the lady was that our carer would accompany the lady to the shops each morning. This allowed our client to retain her independence and her important daily activity. The presence of our carer reassured her husband, whose primary concern was always about his wife’s safety, which led to his original actions.
Inclusiveness, and kindness through good communications, both help to retain a sense of identity and belonging for the person with dementia.
*With 30 years experience in caring, Mary has worked in The Mater Hospitals, both public and private, and Leopardstown Park Hospital before joining Private HomeCare.
As Senior Social Care Community Supervisor, Mary’s role is to assess the care that is needed for each client to live at home. Mary assesses this through meeting clients and home visits.