During a very interesting January Leixlip Alzheimer Café Dr. Miriam Kennedy, consultant psychiatrist spoke about depression and dementia. Here are some of the key points of her presentation:
• People living with dementia are at an increased risk of experiencing depression, at any stage of the condition, but particularly in the early stages.
• Depression is more than feeling low for a short period of time. Depression is usually present for two or more weeks and impacts on everyday functioning reducing our ability to cope day to day. It increases social withdrawal and reduces enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities. It may also present as tearfulness or irritability.
• Carers of people with dementia can also become depressed and it is important to ensure that carers get help should they need it.
• There are a number of ways people living with dementia and their carers can help themselves in terms of reducing the likelihood of depression and reducing anxiety.
➢ Keep in contact with friends and family and remain socially active. Documenting personal life stories can help people with dementia remain connected to others.
➢ Exercise- even small amount of exercise has been shown to lift the mood and increase wellbeing.
➢ Sleep- things often look brighter when you sleep well. If this is an issue, speak to a healthcare professional who will be able to offer advice and support.
➢ Continue doing things that you like doing and even think about taking up a new hobby. This will help you stay connected to your community and make new friends.
➢ Routine is important for people with dementia. Try to establish a routine, which includes enjoyable activities, as it allows the person to feel more in control and relaxed.
➢ If you are worried about something talk to someone. This is really important if you find that your mood is consistently low, as you may need to seek professional help. Seeking help is perfectly normal. You would not walk around with a broken arm without seeking help, so why should you put up with feeling depressed!!!
➢ Carers should not feel guilty about allowing others, whether formally or informally, to help them. It is not possible to do everything by ourselves. It is good to ask ourselves: If my friend was dealing with a similar situation what advice would I give? Often we are harder on ourselves than on others.
This is just a snapshot of the talk. For further information on living well with dementia click on the links below: