Guardian Dementia

This page shows the latest items from the Guardian Dementia newsfeed.

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes review – TV to prompt waves of feelings

This series bringing 14 people with dementia together to run a restaurant is clear and compassionate, showing the power television has to mass-educate

We are entering the age of dementia. Individually, so many of us are now directly or, at the very smallest remove, affected by it. Culturally, first come the documentaries, of which there have been many, and then come the reality TV projects. A few weeks ago there was Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure, which saw the Line of Duty star, whose grandmother had the condition, investigating why and helping demonstrate how musicality can survive the brutal blows other skills and abilities cannot. Now, there is The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes (Channel 4).

Related: TV tonight: inside the restaurant staffed by people with dementia

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19 June 2019, 9:00 pm

How dementia robbed me of my love of cooking

Wendy Mitchell wrote a bestselling memoir about having Alzheimer’s. Here she describes how the disease has changed her relationship with food

Some days there is not much that I remember. When the fog comes down, I don’t know what day it is. I don’t know the time, or even the year. Those are the very worst days and, thankfully, they are still relatively few. But on good days, my memory is challenging. You can tell me a secret and I’ll always keep it because I simply won’t remember. But one thing I never forget is that food used to mean so much more to me than it does now.

We think of food as fuel. At its heart, that is all it is. That is all it is to me now. These days I even have to set alarms on my iPad to remind me to eat – the part of my brain that feels hunger stopped working a long time ago. Yet, when you no longer get pleasure from food, you realise it is so much more than that. It’s how we show love as a parent, it’s how we bond with friends, it’s an apology for saying the wrong thing, it’s a welcome to the neighbourhood.

I made simple suppers that only required two hobs, then one, until I realised I couldn’t use the cooker any more

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16 June 2019, 10:30 am

Blue badge scheme now open to people with invisible disabilities

New guidance means those with conditions such as dementia or anxiety may be eligible for parking permit

People with invisible disabilities can now apply to use blue badge parking permits, the government has announced.

The Department for Transport (DfT) issued the new guidance on Saturday, advising that those with conditions such as dementia or anxiety disorders could be eligible for the scheme, which allows people to park closer to their destination.

Related: ‘Don’t dwell on what you can’t do’: travelling with disabilities

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15 June 2019, 6:00 am

A letter to… my dad, as he settles into a care home

‘When you confessed you were barricading yourself in your bedroom at night, we knew you couldn’t go on living alone’: the letter you always wanted to write

Last Friday was one of the most profound days of my life. You remembered you were going to try out a new living arrangement and had packed some carrier bags to be helpful. DVDs were mixed with food waste and clothes, but we sorted out what you needed. I worried about how you would react when we arrived at the home and saw people having lunch, some being fed, everyone a stranger. But you bravely took your seat at the table and tried to start a conversation about Elvis.

That no one answered you breaks my heart but, like you, they were hard-of-hearing. Still, you ate lots and later told me you liked this “hospital hotel”. That day and the next, as I hung around while you settled in, I learned what love looks like from the “family members” (staff). They explained to me that you are now more a “feeling person” than a “thinking person”, and that what you need most is love.

Related: A letter to… new mothers, from a health visitor

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15 June 2019, 5:45 am

Mystery of why arteries harden may have been solved, say scientists

Study finds calcium deposits are triggered by molecule produced by damaged cells

The mysterious mechanism behind the hardening of arteries may have been solved, researchers have revealed, in a study that also suggests the first potential preventive drug for the condition linked to heart attack, dementia and stroke.

Arteries harden as calcium becomes deposited in the elastic walls of the vessels, a process that happens as we age and is exacerbated for patients with diabetes or kidney disease. Stiffening can also occur as calcium becomes deposited in fatty plaques in the arteries – a condition called atherosclerosis.

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11 June 2019, 3:00 pm

Mother review – tender portrait of a charismatic carer

Kristof Bilsen’s documentary focuses on Pomm, who looks after Europeans with Alzheimer’s in Thailand while facing problems of her own

A documentary about the pain of mothers losing a connection with their children might not sound like one of the most uplifting films of the year, but Kristof Bilsen’s film is a radical achievement: a love letter to loss, sacrifice and yearning. It questions how we care for elderly loved ones, makes provocative contrasts between east and west in the economics of medicine, and, with a central character who’s pure charisma, this is intimate observational documentary-making of a high standard.

Pomm is a carer in Thailand for westerners with Alzheimer’s. She gives her patient one-to-one care, which comprises singing, joking, hugging and confiding, as well as the basics of cleaning and welfare. This is more personal attention than would be possible in her patients’ home countries, and though it doesn’t come cheap, families feel it’s worth the expense of sending someone halfway across the world for it. When we first meet her, Pomm’s patient is Elisabeth, who can communicate only in squeaks and other noises, but seems calm and content.

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10 June 2019, 11:56 am

I have to treat the patients like objects: The harsh reality of working in dementia care | Anonymous

Every shift is a constant rush while facing abuse from residents. Still, I’m struggling to pay the bills. Why is our work so devalued?

As workers in dementia care, we are carrying out some of the most hidden, difficult and under-recognised work in this country. The aged care royal commission must examine how the current system is impacting those of us working in acute dementia care, and talk about the heartbreaking effects of funding cuts to dementia patients and the constant stream of challenges we face.

Related: ‘It’s our reputation’: why nursing homes are denying Australians the ‘dignity of risk’

There are times when dementia residents are not treated as human beings with feelings and emotions

Related: ‘Treated like a child’: nursing homes admit 112,000 cases of substandard care

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23 May 2019, 5:00 am

Revealed: air pollution may be damaging 'every organ in the body'

Exclusive: Comprehensive analysis finds harm from head to toe, including dementia, heart and lung disease, fertility problems and reduced intelligence

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17 May 2019, 8:46 am

Number of people with dementia living alone predicted to double

Charity says nearly a quarter of million in the UK face isolation and loneliness by 2039

The number of people with dementia who endure the “frightening isolation” of living alone will double to 240,000 over the next 20 years, an Alzheimer’s charity has predicted.

Related: Dementia: eat better, exercise, and reduce smoking and drinking to cut risk

Related: Dementia: what happens when memory fails us

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14 May 2019, 11:01 pm

Dementia: eat better, exercise, and reduce smoking and drinking to cut risk

WHO research highlights lifestyle factors linked to increased risk of disease

Taking better care of ourselves could be the best long-term strategy to tackling the growing problem of dementia, according to a new report.

Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found dementia affects 50 million people worldwide, costs $818bn (£632bn) annually to treat, and diagnoses are likely to triple by 2050.

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14 May 2019, 1:00 pm

Form of dementia that ‘mimics’ Alzheimer's symptoms discovered

Disorder known as LATE affects different brain proteins and may need different treatment

A new form of dementia that “mimics” the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and is thought to affect about one in five elderly people has been recognised in a major scientific report.

The international review concluded that a substantial fraction of patients aged over 80 who were assumed to have Alzheimer’s are suffering from a different brain disorder known as LATE. The under-recognised disease is likely to have a public health impact comparable to Alzheimer’s, the authors said.

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30 April 2019, 4:14 pm

Routine sense of smell tests could be used to spot signs of dementia

Impaired smell in later life can be an early warning of neurodegenerative and heart diseases, research suggests

Olfactory tests could help doctors spot older adults who are at greater risk of developing dementia, researchers say.

The sense of smell is known to deteriorate with age. However, researchers have previously found it might also hint at health problems: older adults who struggle to identify odours have a greater chance of dying in the near future regardless of how old they are.

Related: Housework could keep brain young, research suggests

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29 April 2019, 9:00 pm

On the frontline in the fight for LGBT rights

Ruth Hunt joined Stonewall 14 years ago, quickly rising to become the charity’s chief executive. In that time she has seen huge strides made towards equality for LGBT people. As she prepares to step down in August, she reflects on how much further there is to go. And: the author Nicci Gerrard on her campaign for the rights of people with dementia in hospitals

The charity Stonewall, named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, has been fighting for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights since 1989. Ruth Hunt, its chief executive, is stepping down in August. As she prepares to leave the role, Hunt talks to Anushka Asthana about her experience growing up as a gay woman in Britain during the 80s and 90s, and how much more work still needs to be done to gain equality.

She also discusses why it was a mistake for Stonewall to only have taken on transgender rights in 2015, and why she wishes others would recognise that trans rights are human rights.

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29 April 2019, 2:00 am

Housework could keep brain young, research suggests

Even light exertions can slow down ageing of the brain, activity-tracker data indicates

Even light activity such as household chores might help to keep the brain young, researchers say, adding to a growing body of evidence that, when it comes to exercise, every little helps.

The findings mirror upcoming guidance from the UK chief medical officers, and existing US guidelines, which say light activity or very short bouts of exercise are beneficial to health – even if it is just a minute or two at a time – countering the previous view that there was a threshold that must be reached before there were significant benefits.

Related: Five ways to move more – without going to the gym

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19 April 2019, 3:03 pm

Europe's unflinching tales of #MeToo and xenophobia land in London

A Piece of the Continent, a festival celebrating the unifying influence of European theatre, includes dramas about patriarchy, dogmatism and dementia

As Britain seeks to finalise its divorce from the EU, an inaugural festival celebrates the best of European theatre and its influence on the UK. A Piece of the Continent was created by the Actors Centre and Voila! Europe, as a response to Brexit and the idea of putting a picket fence around Britain’s creative life. It shows that culture is at its greatest when it cross-pollinates. The first three shows in the festival encompass big, universal themes – #MeToo, dementia, religious dogma – and what unifies these hour-long productions is their inventive form.

A Voice (★★★★☆) is the story of a 1960s French singer, Angèle, controlled by François, a predatory impresario, and framed as a cabaret-style musical. Its writer, Anne Bertreau, plays Angèle with a wide-eyed credulousness that is filled with pathos. In her mid-20s but already jaded, she looks back at their relationship with growing horror: “My life became his life, my body became his body.”

A Piece of the Continent is at the Tristan Bates theatre, London, until 27 April.

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11 April 2019, 2:54 pm

Brexit Britain is in the midst of collective dementia | Letter

A healthy ‘working memory’ is vital to interpreting the changing world around us, writes Kyle Hoekstra

Scientists may be able to reverse memory decline in individuals (Scientists reverse memory decline using electrical pulses, 8 April), but are they any closer to finding a remedy for our collective dementia?

To read the news, it’s hard to escape the feeling that we are currently in a kind of fugue state. At any moment a politician may be claiming to inhabit a plucky Blitz spirit, an anti-imperial defiance, or a divine role in the plans of the Almighty – indeed sometimes all at once. Couple that with tone-deaf promises to resurrect the United Kingdom’s global ambitions and you’ve got yourself a cabinet minister’s speech.

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9 April 2019, 4:50 pm

Council broke law over deprivation of liberty, ombudsman rules

Staffordshire council decided in 2016 not to assess all cases of restrictive supervision

A council deliberately broke the law by failing to properly assess whether thousands of vulnerable people were illegitimately kept under continuous and restrictive supervision by care home staff, the local government and social care ombudsman has ruled.

Staffordshire contry council decided at an informal cabinet meeting in 2016 that budget cuts meant it would no longer formally consider all requests from care homes and hospitals to place particular residents under tight staff controls.

Related: Contact the Guardian securely

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31 March 2019, 11:01 pm

Brexit has ganged up with Alzheimer’s against my mother | Anne Penketh

With politics utterly gridlocked, the most vulnerable people in society are floundering in a policy vacuum

It’s tempting to think that the sudden deterioration of my mother’s mental health could be linked to Brexit and our country’s collective nervous breakdown. I know it’s just a coincidence. But I believe that she and many others with Alzheimer’s disease are Brexit victims because the government’s focus on leaving the EU has created a policy vacuum that has cut adrift the most vulnerable people.

Related: Delay to green paper caps dismal 48 hours for social care | David Brindle

I can’t fault the care and compassion shown by the staff at Mum’s home, nor by the social workers

Related: Funding alone won’t fix the social care system | Colin Capper

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28 March 2019, 11:30 am

What Dementia Teaches Us about Love by Nicci Gerrard review – savage realities

A powerful and beautifully written account, centred on the experience of the author’s father, and identifying a crisis in care

“Life without memory is no life at all,” wrote Luis Buñuel on the plight of his mother, who by the end of her life had no memory left. Woven together over time, memories shape who we are, forming the unique narrative that is our identity.

According to the novelist and journalist Nicci Gerrard, dementia – which “feeds upon the stuff of the past” – is the illness we now fear the most: “The terror of losing memories is the terror of losing the active self.” There are many forms of dementia but more than half of people affected have the neuro-degenerative disease Alzheimer’s. In 2015 some 850,000 people in the UK had dementia and a similar number were undiagnosed. It affects one in six people over 80: “If it’s not you or me, it’s someone we love.” Globally there are 47 million people living with dementia and the cost of treating it is more than the cost of cancer, stroke and heart disease combined.

One in eight adults in the UK cares for someone with dementia – the toll it takes on their lives is largely unrecognised

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27 March 2019, 12:00 pm

Hospital no place for those with dementia | Letters

One of society’s biggest challenges is how to reduce the number of old people with dementia going into hospital

Nicci Gerrard writes very engagingly about her father’s journey through dementia with her support in his last 10 years (“Dementia is more scary when you try not to think about it”, New Review). He enjoyed a family holiday in Sweden picking forest mushrooms, joining a crayfish party, almost painting a meadow and having a swim in the lake, singing under the moon. Soon after, he went into hospital to heal his leg ulcers; no longer at home and with strict visiting hours, he rapidly became a skeletal, inarticulate ghost who evaporated into death. Nicci’s questions need real engagement.

How can we keep to a minimum the number of old people with dementia visiting hospitals? We need to seek ways to effectively improve health, cope with the challenges and overcome dementia, if this is possible.
Andrew Scott
St Albans, Herts

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24 March 2019, 6:00 am