Useful information on
medical conditions

At Country Cousins our Cousins are experienced in providing care for clients with a wide variety of medical conditions. These include (but are not limited to) dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes, MS, cerebral palsy and palliative care. Having a live in carer can enable someone to stay in the comfort of their own home for longer rather than go into a care home.

Dementia

Unfortunately, dementia is a relatively common condition, and the risk of developing dementia increases as you get older. The majority of people who are diagnosed with dementia are over the age of 65.

Someone with dementia will have an ongoing decline in the brain and its abilities and can have problems with: 

• Short and long term memory loss
• Thinking speed
• Mental agility
• Language skills
• Understanding situations
• Judgement

Often someone with dementia can become uninterested in activities they were previously interested in and may also have difficulty controlling their emotions. It becomes more difficult for someone with dementia to plan or organise events which can lead to them forgetting to have meals or take medication, this can make leading an independent life more challenging.

Communicating with someone who’s living with dementia can be challenging. That’s because people with dementia experience memory loss and can find it difficult to express ideas.

There are several different types of dementia some of which are explained below.

 

Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and according to the NHS affects an estimated 850,000 people in the UK.

As Alzheimer’s develops proteins build up in the brain and form structures which are called ‘tangles’ or ‘plaques’. It’s these structures that can lead to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. 

It is not known what causes Alzheimer’s but there are thought to be a several factors that can increase your chance of developing the condition that include:

• An increase in age
• Family history of Alzheimer’s
• A previous serious head injuries
• Any condition associated with cardiovascular disease

 

Vascular Dementia

 

The second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s is vascular dementia. 

Vascular dementia occurs when there is a reduced supply of blood to the brain causing a lack of oxygen and nutrients reaching the blood cells. Narrowing and blockage of the small blood vessels inside the brain, a single stroke or several ‘mini strokes’ can all cause blood supply to be reduced. If brain cells do not receive a regular supply of blood they will eventually die. It is when the brain cells die that there are problems with memory, reasoning and thinking that impact on daily life.

There are several other forms of dementia and for more information some of the following links may be useful:

www.alzheimers.org.uk

www.dementiauk.org

NHS Choices - Dementia


All of our office team have received Dementia Friends training. For more information or to become a Dementia Friend please see: www.dementiafriends.org.uk

 

Parkinson’s

 

When the nerve cells that make dopamine begin to die this is when Parkinson’s starts to develop. Dopamine enables messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that control movement. When these parts of the brain are unable to function properly this causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear. 

The reason why these brain cells start to die is still not fully known but it is thought to affect roughly 1 in 500 people in the UK, the majority of these being over 50.

The main symptoms of Parkinson's are:

• Uncontrolled shaking of parts of the body (called tremors)
• Slower movement
• Stiff and inflexible muscles

For more information on Parkinson’s the following links may be helpful:

www.parkinsons.org.uk

NHS Choices - Parkinson's

 

Stroke

 

A stroke is when the blood supply to part of your brain has been cut off. There are a few different types of stroke that may occur.

Ischaemic stroke - This is caused when a blockage (such as a blood clot) prevents supply of blood to an area of the brain. This is the most common type of stroke.

Haemorrhagic stroke – This type of stroke is not as common as an ischaemic stroke but can be much more serious. It is caused by bleeding in or around the brain. 

Transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – This is often known as a mini stroke. The symptoms of a TIA do not last as long as other types of stroke, but can be an indicator that something is wrong and a warning that a serious stroke may occur. 

With all strokes it is important to seek medical attention straight away as the quicker you receive help the better chance you have of a good recovery.

For more information regarding strokes the following links may be helpful:

www.stroke.org.uk
NHS Choices - Stroke

 

Multiple Sclerosis

 

This is a neurological condition that affects the nerves in the spinal column and the brain. This is a lifelong condition and most people are usually diagnosed in their 20’s or 30’s. The symptoms of MS can vary between person to person and in different parts of the body. These include:

• Tiredness
• Difficulty walking
• Vision problems
• Difficulty controlling the bladder
• Numbness or tingling in various areas of the body
• Muscle stiffness and spasms
• Problems with balance and co-ordination
• Difficulties with thinking, learning and planning

For more information on MS you can visit:

www.mstrust.org.uk

www.mssociety.org.uk

NHS Choice - MS

 

Cerebral Palsy

 

Cerebral palsy often occurs if a baby’s brain is damaged during or soon after birth or if the baby’s brain doesn’t develop normally when in the womb. This affects roughly 1 in 400 children in the UK. Symptoms vary from person to person and can include:

• Delays in reaching certain development milestones such and sitting up and walking when a child
• Appearing too stiff or too floppy
• Weakness in their arms or legs
• Restless, jerky or uncontrolled movements
• Walking on their tip-toes

As symptoms vary widely between each person treatments will be tailored to their individual needs. 

For more information on cerebral palsy you may like to visit

www.scope.org.uk

NHS Choices - Cerebral Palsy

 

Palliative care

 

Palliative care is included in the end of life care of someone with an advanced progressive illness. If someone has an illness that can’t be cured then palliative care is to ensure that they are kept as comfortable as possible and to die with dignity. This includes pain management and more supportive care as well as providing support for the family and carers to help them cope with their own bereavement. Palliative care should provide the best quality of life for patients and their families. 

For more support through this very difficult time some of the following may be helpful:

www.mariecurie.org.uk

www.macmillan.org.uk

NHS Choices - Palliative

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