Dementia can be hard to recognise in a loved one especially if dementia manifests itself over a period of time. There are different forms of dementia and they can affect memory, thinking, speech and the ability to do ordinary tasks.A diagnosis of dementia is normally given by the GP or by a geriatrician in the hospital.
The Alzheimers Society of Ireland estimate that there are 64,000 people with dementia in Ireland in 2021 and that the numbers will double to over 150,000 by 2045. Many people with dementia still live at home with some support from family and carers. Sometimes people with dementia can live for a long time after the diagnosis and their care needs increase all the time. Eventually the person may need to go to a specialised dementia unit in a nursing home if their needs can no longer be met at home/
The cost of nursing home care can be a worry, especially if the person is likely to live for a number of years. Often people with dementia are physically well and strong. During Covid daycare centres closed and families found themselves with reduced support when looking after their older relatives. Some have behavioural issues and can become aggressive. In addition hospitals cancelled medical appointments and families were reluctant to bring relatives out for fear of catching the virus. Some families did not want the risk of homecare workers bringing Covid into the house.
All in all the lockdown has threatened the wellbeing of people with dementia as family carers have become overstretched and exhausted . They were reluctant to ask their own families for help because people were not supposed to travel beyond their immediate area and that made life difficult for everyone.
But there is hope on the horizon: although there have been delays in getting the vaccine to patients who live in remote areas the National Ambulance Service have been involved in administering the vaccine in recent weeks. Covid was a terrible shock to everyone. The fear and worry for family carers who have not yet themselves been vaccinated is prolonging the agony for all involved.