To mark Dementia Awareness Week, Dr Jude Hancock, co-ordinator of the Dementia Health Integration Team (HIT) talks about how important relationships are for people with dementia. This is part of a series of blogs, where key players in Bristol's health sector write about a health related subject of their choice. If you want to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a number of conditions of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia, among others. Having dementia typically means a person experiences a progressive decline in their memory, reasoning and communication skills. As the illness progresses, the people living with dementia may have difficulty performing activities of daily living, such as managing their finances. This often means the person with dementia needs more support as the condition progresses, to live well.
Living with dementia can impact on relationships with family members and friends, who often provide the majority of support for people. In Bristol and South Gloucestershire there are support groups and courses for people affected by dementia to help negotiate changes in relationships. Negotiating change because of living with a long-term condition can be difficult, and it is vital people affected by dementia are supported to maintain good relationships with family, friends, and wider social networks.
Throughout life the relationships we have with family, friends, social networks and work colleagues are continually changing. Living with dementia means adapting to yet another change, but with a bit of planning and support many people affected by dementia are able to maintain positive relationships with the people and activities they have enjoyed throughout life. Additionally, some people affected by dementia decide to try new activities such as Singing for the Brain or gardening, and form new social relationships as a result.
Maintaining existing relationships and forging new ones is a key part of life, whether you are affected by dementia or not. More information on support available for people affected by dementia can be found at: