Rising to the challenge of an affliction we all face

Growing ‘old’ can sometimes seem a little daunting.  As the average age of residents at Nightingale Hammerson increases to 90 years,  so too does one’s susceptibility to dementia.   It is no exaggeration to say that we may all face this affliction in some form or other as we grow older.

Dementia can cause older people to feel isolated and frustrated. It is the challenge of a care-home charity such as Nightingale Hammerson to re-ignite memories and create a culture that enables a positive outlook for residents and their families.

As our residents come to us much older, more focus and preparation towards caring for those with dementia has to be at the heart of everything we do.  The way we care for our residents is always ‘person-centred’ – led by their abilities, needs, interests and passions.

Research shows that the wellbeing of people with dementia is strongly linked to the environment in which they live.  This informs our redevelopment of Hammerson House, which will allow us to broaden and deepen the level of care we offer dementia patients and provide even more residents with a home for life in truly world-class facilities.

Although we never imagine that our memories will fade or be taken away, this is the cruel reality for many of our residents with dementia.

We are doing everything we can to keep those memories alive, including offering a wide variety of therapies such as  Namaste, pet, music, reading, art, drama and pottery.

Research shows therapies such as these can alleviate the symptoms of dementia and reduce anxiety and agitation significantly , thereby reducing the need for medication and improving the resident’s mood and awareness.

There are more than 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to more than one million by 2025. It is therefore not surprising that caring for those with dementia has become a hot topic for discussion over the past few months. What is the best way to care for a family member with dementia? How am I going to cope?

Many of our residents have led wonderfully creative lives and it is heartening to know dementia need not be a stumbling block. For example, we are currently celebrating the work of one of our residents, Rosalind Fleck.  Her work charts the journey of her creative talent from childhood, to adulthood and now to later life – living with dementia.  She is one example of how memories can be re-ignited and moments recreated through art.

Many despair at the thought of putting a family member into a care home. The very concept conjures a variety of thoughts, not all positive.  The reality is Nightingale Hammerson “care homes” are anything but.

We provide properties that enable older people to have a better quality of life while ensuring they are part of a warm community where they can receive first-class care and emotional support.

This Jewish new year, we should let our communities’ older people be our inspiration. They are the very foundations of our society, the roots planted in the ground.

We have a lot of lessons to learn and inspirations to take from the older generation and I hope that these lessons can act as a springboard for us all.


About the Author
Melvin Lawson is chairman of Nightingale Hammerson
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