Joint Action over Dementia across NE Essex

Many of you may be aware of Dementia and Alzheimer’s, a condition occurring in later life which primarily effects memory function, personality and reasoning. Since there is a growing ageing population many more of us are succumbing in old age to dementia type problems. However, did you know there are 200 other variants of Dementia on the typical more familiar form as stated?

The description of Frontotemporal Dementia (or Pick’s disease) differs from typical dementia though they are similar from the degenerative characteristics they both exhibit. For FTD the executive (frontal) and emotive (temporal) parts of the brain are affected, thus impacting a person’s ability to control their thinking and emotions. The brain’s front lobe usually acts as an emotional inhibitor and the temporal lobe controls empathy and anger. Degeneration of both over time will destabilise the patient’s ability to control their behaviour as the pathways between the lobes change over time. 

This form of dementia tends to start earlier, most cases develop during mid life and some even as early as 45. Over time the process of thinking, ability to reason and emotional control become harder to control. Look out for symptoms which may appear as depression in the patient such as loss of interest in themselves and the welfare of loved ones. Patients tend to appear unaware of the distress caused by their inappropriate behaviour e.g. laughing at a funeral. The onset of such of a condition can be especially challenging for family members possibly confused by the gradual change in a loved one’s demeanor although the patient will most likely be unaware of it themselves.

Other problems will develop over time.

  • trouble concentrating, 
  • planning, making decisions and understanding conversations. 
  • overeating, or forget to bathe. 
  • becoming compulsive buyers, 
  • stealing from neighbors  
  • rummaging in their garbage, 
  • shoplifting at stores. 
  • walking more slowly, 
  • show less muscle strength 
  • having trouble swallowing.

Nothing Is Set In Stone!

Though previously difficult to treat, studies have show that certain lifestyle changes will benefit those in the early stages of the condition. Pioneering research in the USA has discovered that attaining high levels of mental and physical activity helps slow the degenerative process down by as much as half. The results at the end of two years were surprising: Despite continued degeneration of brain tissue the people who regularly engaged in mental or physical activity performed twice as well on cognitive tests as those who were more inactive. 

At Age Concern Colchester and NE Essex we are committed to combat Dementia through our programme of Health in Mind and Health in Body as applied to our many friendship groups and services. As a charity organisation we value evidence which directly links healthy life style choices with increased wellbeing for all our members with Dementia. We have many projects on the go which embody the unique ethos derived from the research on Frontotemporal Dementia.

While adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and physical and mental exercises can improve brain health, physical activity is provided on our Veranda which includes: Keep Fit Club, Chairobics and Yoga classes each week.

A cognitively active lifestyle could be defined as socialising, doing games, puzzles and hobbies, anything that similarly exercises the brain. So we also have mental health also covered too by running regular clubs and friendship groups: Coffee mornings, art and craft group, sewing group, Nepalese Society, Bingo, Beading Buddies, Bridge, Sewing and Knitting club, Hoy Bingo and Board Games club to name but a few.

Check our events page for more details: https://www.ageconcerncolchester.org.uk/events/ 

So lessons can be drawn from this study – Nothing is inevitable about Frontotemporal Dementia and the right approach might achieve a better prognosis with a better quality of life for a person who has any type of Dementia.

Here in Essex we are committed to improving awareness about Dementia and the deeper understanding of this condition. So we at Age Concern Colchester and NE Essex have been proud to work alongside our partner organisations who are taking a similar approach to us over Dementia action. If we work together we will be better able to understand and learn about Dementia in all its forms and support our community accordingly.

Across the Tendring peninsula CVS Tendring’s HILL project clubs provide a perfect environment to develop lifestyle choices for both Health in Mind and Health in Body. They run the Clacton Dementia Cafe which is a friendly place where people with dementia, their families and friends can come and meet. You can access the CVS Tendring Hill Projects here to see what is available across Tendring: https://www.cvstendring.org.uk/hill-projects.html

The Tendring Dementia Action Alliance is led by the CEO of Age Concern Colchester and NE Essex Simon Prestney. If you have any questions for him or would like to get involved you can e-mail him here. [email protected]

For more info about:

https://www.dementiaaction.org.uk/local_alliances/19683_tendring_dementia_action_alliance