Dementia care

Dementia care

A global challenge and a national concern

What is dementia?

The term describes a host of conditions associated with the gradual deterioration of the brain's functions. These can include problems with reasoning and communication, speed of thinking, comprehension, mental agility, memory loss and feelings of anxiety, depression or anger. Its causes are various brain diseases, the most well-known being Alzheimer's. Dementia is not simply part of the ageing process; it can be caused by changes to the brain structure and gradual damage to the brain cells.

The UK perspective

In 2012 the number of people afflicted with the dementia in the UK was estimated at 800,000. This number is predicted to double in the next 40 years.

  • The cost of caring for dementia patients in the UK in 2012 was £23 billion
  • 25% of all hospital in-patients suffer from some type of dementia
  • 77% of people with dementia suffer from anxiety or depression
  • 75% of UK citizens don't believe that society is geared up to deal with dementia sufferers adequately

While the nature of dementia itself is highly varied, there are some common strands

  • Disorientation within the physical environment
  • Disorientation of time
  • Confusion, stress, anxiety and mood swings
  • Memory loss – particularly short-term
  • Difficulties in comprehending new things
  • Difficulties in speech
  • Loss of visual perception

All these elements need careful consideration when designing premises to care for patients. Units designed specifically for dementia care can maximise the quality of life and safety of sufferers as well as their families and carers. Principles which help counter the effects of a disability, maximise independence, reinforce personal identity and enhance confidence are required.