Following on from our blog last week regarding the Butterfly Household Approach, tonight the series about different approaches to dementia, ‘Dementiaville’, will air its second episode on Channel 4. The series follows different approaches to dealing with patients with dementia, with tonight’s episode focusing on those with dementia who are being cared for by their families.
In tonight’s episode, the three families featured all care for their relative with dementia at home.
Ann looks after her husband of 42 years, Jim, along with help from her sons, Ian and Rob. Jim’s dementia symptoms were first noticed by Ann in 2000, when he started getting in accidents whilst driving and struggled to find his way home from church meetings. He had always enjoyed fishing, however around this time he stopped going altogether.
He was professionally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2003, and is now in the latter stages. He can no longer do anything for himself, and has lived in his own world, where he constantly talks to himself, for five years. This was at its worst last Christmas, when Jim talked to himself continually for 36 hours, in a very limited vocabulary.
Joy cares for her mother Dorothy, with the help of her 21 year-old son Romaine. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and as she always loved to drive, she got a job driving buses in Jamaica, only the third woman to do so. She decided to leave Jamaica in the early 1960’s, and moved to Derby, where she met her second husband Egbert. She continued her bus driving work in England, and was the first black woman driver in Derby, driving a double decker bus in the 1980’s. Her daughter Joy is a single mum with three children, and Dorothy always helped her to bring them up.
Joy started noticing differences in her mother’s behaviour, such as shouting at small annoyances when she had always been a calm and relaxed person. Although once a good cook, she began forgetting how to cook her favourite meals, forgetting ingredients and opting to just put everything in one pot. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2013, and subsequently moved into Joy’s family home, as she couldn’t cope alone in her flat.
64 year-old Tony was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2010, and is now cared for by his wife Jacquie. Before his diagnosis, Tony worked as a barrister, and was always involved with complicated criminal cases. He enjoyed cycling and reading books on politics and history, but he now struggles to complete many activities, such as using the remote control, making a cup of tea or getting dressed in the morning.
Although he is struggling with tasks he once found easy, he has now discovered a love for art. He attended an art workshop two years ago, and now spends a lot of time drawing and painting, which he’d never done before. His family now look at his art as his way of expressing himself, and is one of the only things he enjoys that make him more stable.
Each of these families were given the opportunity to visit Dr. David Sheard, a dementia specialist who has spent 35 years working in health and social care, in dementia care posts. He has a wide experience of supporting families living with dementia, and was a former consultant to the Alzheimer’s Society. Through this he led a major educational programme, ‘Being Together With Dementia’, teaching families to learn from each other.
The families all attended a workshop run by Dr. Sheard, with the aim of showing the different methods of connecting with their loved ones. His beliefs differ to that of the Butterfly Household Approach, which was discussed last week, in that he believes that people know who they are, as they all know who they once were. His aim is to reach out to the person with dementia, through the use of shared memories. He also believes it is important for families to relive important moments in their lives, alongside building new memories together.
If you are interested in learning more about dementia, and understanding the different methods used to improve the lives of those with it, Dr. David Sheard has authored NCC’s Positive Dementia Care course.
The second episode of Dementiaville is on Channel 4 tonight, at 9pm.