Dementia Repeats Itself

Sufferers of dementia are renowned for their forgetfulness and recognised by their tendency to repeat the same questions over and over.     I first came across this when I opened a nursing home called Newfield House in Coventry in 1987, which specialised in looking after people with dementia.

My very first blog in February 2010 was about dementia and I have regularly been writing about it ever since.  (You can see my earlier blogs by clicking on “Dementia” in the TOPICS LIST).   In fact I have written more posts about dementia than any other single topic.  Now it seems other writers in the media are following my example.

A recent conference in America was reported on in The Times.   It  repeated a story about “Overuse of drugs to treat dementia”.   It should be no surprise as the Department of Health raised the issue earlier this year.  (You can see my blog “Doctors in two minds” by clicking on Pills in the TAG CLOUD).

Looking back a few years and again the story surfaced in the findings of a report of research at Harvard University.   The study found that pensioners who regularly took pills for insomnia and anxiety were more likely to develop dementia.  (You can see my blog “Hooked on Pills” by clicking on Pills in the TAG CLOUD).

In Newfield House and in the five further specialist nursing homes we built, the first thing we did was reduce the levels of drugs the residents were prescribed.     It made the residents more difficult to manage and regularly repeated questions were part of the daily life of the home. The key difference between then and now, were the staff.   Thirty percent of the care staff were qualified Registered Mental Nurses, as was the Nursing Home Manager.   They were supported by NVQ trained care staff and between them and the relatives of the residents, they established care plans which were personalised to each resident.   The staff were hugely committed and had the patience of Job.

Sadly, with reduced staffing levels and severely constrained costs, the chemical cosh is now the silently tolerated treatment for dementia.

It seems as though it’s not only people with dementia who constantly repeat themselves, but also reporters, researchers and successive Governments.

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3 Responses to Dementia Repeats Itself

  1. Dementia2018
    Dear John, your comments are of a person in deep thought today!
    Reading backwards, can prove most invigorating and challenging for ones mind? I am more interested in the man, and his writings, and possible life’s experiences, that maketh the man of today.
    John you make passing remarks on the earlier life and the apparent ability of society to provide expertly trained psychologist, fully trained and specialist nurses experienced in mental issues in all ailments, of which dementia was but just one of the skills; which you allege are missing in modern nursing? Or at least the clientelle (US?) the oldies have outstripped the NHS specialist facilities?
    I wish to rattle your cage, and experience of life John, based on your written paragraphs under the ‘’Smiles and Grumbles’’ Banner?
    John you have according to the writing’s spent a life time with the problems of the elderly from a view point of housing, care and support in latter life against the normal r averages of old age, in helping in the organisation of care homes (Both residential and nursing). Then you had with other of a like mind had the opportunity to develop and encourage the building of ‘’Retirement Villages’’ for the elderly population in the UK.- During this phase of life, and recorded on ‘Smiles and Grumbles’’ was your opportunity with others to visit the U.S.A. {America} and travel to their concept of retirement complexes for the older person- You have quoted 2 states[Texas +?] and two complexes, of how they have all amenities for the elderly, and how the urbanised complexes { you do not mention total number of houses condo’s [possibly a 1000] with built in homes for the attending support staff, so they are on immediate call, should assistance be required?}- I note from the description most of the houses/condo’s were for a couple or single occupancy- no mention of a centralised multi purpose built complex [ blocks of flats/apartments in a multi-story building? For dwelling in?].
    Now I come to my way of thinking as you pose the problem in your latest Blog John stating the professional; NHS support services are not particularly available to all?? I go back to you John and ask you about the ‘American Dream ‘’ for the elderly? For instance how are in such a diverse system of houses and condo’s capable of being given individual dementia care and support { ignoring the costings- which I assume the medical health insurance industry provide, and cover most emergencies and well being support?}
    I now come to you and your benefactor who have developed the concept of a ‘’Retirement village’’ within England. A typical complex/estate can have a central building for some 250 apartments and some subsidiarity housing outside the main building giving some possibly 300 apartments resulting in possibly some 360 to 400 residents. Initially the age profile and mobility problems are managed, and domiciliary care provided for the less able to enjoy village life.-Here comes the rub? And you latest ‘Blog? the British/English population percentages are stating that us oldies over 65 years of age are in the majority? This severely taxes the NHS, which in my opinion is initially to support the young and working population, and this is where the expertise is most needed. We the oldies require support and to some extent the care industry in the UK need support with politeness and professionalisms to provide comfort for a reasonable quality of life, and maybe not the necessaries the full rigours of the NHS and possible a surgical procedure, unless we are the guinea pigs for the future generations.
    With respect to mental illnesses and dementia, we are at 65+ in a retirement village living, either personally, or with neighbours and friends who have such ailments, and the need is for compassion to support these sufferers. In the later stages, such as irrational behaviour and wandering in an un controlled manner, then the concept of the retirement village is severely tested, as to whether it is a ‘home for life’ and has the ability to provide a special unit on site, or one has the status quo of the more severely dementia patients/suffers going into a designated nursing home? To some extent this is tomorrows problem, and requires some careful and balanced minds to consider.
    Do we need an elderly health insurance policy, outside the NHS which specialises in the problems of the oldies, to which one subscribes to at the start of a working life, and can only draw the benefits when one reaches say the age of 70? Answers on a postcard please, usual address. [NB not a general tax take, but a dedicated account?].

    • Bbc2quackers-on demand? Thursday 1 nov. @ 21.00 hours. I just wonder with the[ AI] artificial intelligence, related to medicine, where are we going as a society? A doctor all be it a present a general practitioner at the drop of a hat/ on the end of a mobile phone-called ‘Babylon’. The advantages were explained for those out in the bush/wilds of Africa, or other civilisations in the different parts of the world? Nay the whole world! I just question the method and logic of it all: what is the common language of information/consultation exchange/how does one register, or contain a major plague/epidemic-who has the responsibility and the practical know how, how diseases are prevented from sweeping across continents. Are we all just machines, and objects of income to the AI system/ who pays what? And how much? The British national health scheme was for the nation and to ensure its population were able to be free of illness and health defects, so we could trade/defend and help others!!! Who has the ethical control of ‘’BABYLON’’? is it ‘’Mammon’’ and his money gods?

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