Happy New Year!

At the first Cafe of 2018, Susan O’Reilly (Clinical Nurse Specialist in Dementia, Connolly Hospital) talked to us about living well with dementia. As part of this talk, Susan also explained what delirium is and how to look out for signs of delirium as this can often be missed when someone also has dementia.

 

Living well with dementia

Susan gave everyone a handout (click here for a copy) that highlights 6 key things to do in order to live well with dementia:

  1. Stay Connected – with family, friends, coming along to a Cafe like this or to a social club, for example.
  2. Create Healthy Habits – lot’s of the Cafe speakers talk about ways to keep healthy – look back at our news items
  3. Express Yourself – Talk to someone, keep a journal. tell people what it is like to live with dementia, let them know what matters to you
  4. Find Your Purpose – Big or small, what is meaningful in your life
  5. Nourish Your Soul – important for people with dementia and their families, be good to yourselves, keep doing things you enjoy
  6. Challenge Yourself – do something new. Keep meaningful activities in your life.

Actually, these tips are create for anyone wanting to live well regardless of whether or not you have a dementia.

They were developed by the Alzheimer Society in America and there is a small assessment that you can do online to see how you score in each one and where you might possibly improve: click here to go to the assessment on their website.

Delirium

Susan also gave us a handout that explains what delirium is, who is at risk, what it is like to have a delirium and how we can help someone with a delirium. A copy of the handout is available here.

Delirium is a sudden decline in cognition, behaviour and attention that can occur over days or even hours. Anyone can get a delirium, but people with dementia are at a higher risk of developing one.

A simple way to test for a delirium is to use the SQiD (pronounced squid) – Single Question in Delirium: “Is this person more confused than before?

The earlier you can recognise a delirium the better, but prevention is best.

Susan also taught us a way to remember the potential causes of delirium: PINCH ME

P = Pain  (if someone could be in pain, try to see if distress is relieved by paracetamol)

IN = Infection  (visit the GP and make sure there is no underlying infection that could account for the sudden change)

C = Constipation  (it is important to deal with any constipation or any signs of constipation)

H – Hydration  (is the person drinking enough, especially in hot weather or if the heating is on a lot)

M = Medication  (ask your GP or consultant to review medication regularly and keep an eye out for sudden changes if medications change)

= also Metabolic Disorders  (GP can test for thyroid function, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, problems with glucose levels and/or oxygen levels)

E = Environment  (has the person changed environment (e.g. gone into hospital or to a new location); are they having a problem with their vision or hearing – do their glasses and/or hearing aids need to be checked?)