Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with dementia or similar health condition? We realise it can be a scary time. You probably have lots of questions about what’s caused it and what it means for the future.
It’s important to remember that many people with dementia live well for years after their initial diagnosis and with the right care, information & support, dementia can be managed effectively and positively into later life. Hydration is a key factor in the treatment of dementia – we explain more about this below, along with some insights into dementia which you might find useful. Let us help you make sense of dehydration and dementia.
What is dementia?
Dementia is caused by damage to the brain and is visible through symptoms such as memory loss, personality/mood changes and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes can be very small to start with but in some they can be severe enough to affect everyday living.
Dementia is caused when diseases (such as Alzheimer’s or heart strokes) damage the brain. Each person will have their own unique experience of dementia, one which is often determined by which part of the brain is affected and the associated symptoms that occur as a result.
Some facts & stats about dementia:
There are many different types of dementia – mixed dementia, vascular dementia, dementia with lewy bodies, Frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease included. The latter (Alzheimer’s) is one of the most common causes of brain damage – affecting 62% of sufferers.*
Around 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. It mainly affects people over the age of 65 with 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 affected. 70% of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. But it can affect younger people too. There are more than 42,000 people in the UK under 65 with dementia.*
There are several research projects underway dedicated to studying dementia and scientists are confident that a drug to help slow the symptoms of dementia will be available in the foreseeable future.
Everyone is different but it is important to remember that the symptoms of dementia can be slow and progressive, especially when supported with a good care plan, quality advice and sufficient hydration…
The importance of hydration in treating dementia:
People with dementia can experience problems with the daily routine and this includes eating & drinking. Sometimes sufferers are unable to communicate or recognise that they are thirsty which means they often forget to take a drink. This can lead to headaches, increased confusion, urinary tract infections and constipation, all of which can make the symptoms of dementia worse.
On the flip side, dehydration can create symptoms similar to dementia – an experience which can be confusing for both the sufferer and carer when simply rehydrating them back to good health may be all that is required!
Drinking a sufficient amount of water along with a healthy balanced diet is a core part of managing the condition and is essential to support the physical and mental well-being of dementia sufferers. An older person is recommended to have 2-3 pints of water a day (that’s around 6 tea cups!)
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
The most common symptoms of dehydration include thirst/dry mouth, persistent fatigue and lethargy, muscle cramps or weakness, decreased urination (and often darker urine), nausea and headaches, dizziness, memory function loss, confusion, deep rapid breathing, and increased heart rate.
How can a cup like Droplet® help?
Droplet® identifies when the user has not drunk for some time and uses subtle flashing lights and recorded audio messages to remind the person to take a drink. Entirely customisable, it is designed in the familiar shape of the mugs and cups we use at home, making it recognisable for dementia sufferers and more enjoyable to drink from than the ‘baby beaker’ style cups often used in care homes and hospitals.
Familiar objects, routines & sounds form an important part of dementia care. With this in mind, the Droplet® reminder base has been designed to allow loved ones and carers to record positive messages that gently encourage the user to drink. As well as benefitting the user, it also alerts the carer so they can monitor hydration levels and patterns in patients whilst spotting the signs of potential dehydration early on.
“Droplet has helped my residents enormously. Our Doctor has noticed that they are brighter and more animated since using Droplet.” Helen Russel, Care Home Manager, Polebrook Nursing Home
“I wasn’t sure how often I should be drinking before but Droplet has helped keep me on track. I like the recorded message from my husband too – he’s caring for me even when he isn’t here!” Joan Moody, care home resident
*Figures provided by the Alzheimer’s Society