Chris and Jayne’s Panorama programme brought home the difference in the experience of living with dementia that a couple experience as opposed to someone living on their own.
People living alone are missing that extra comfort of a ‘back up brain’ (as the wonderful Kate Swaffer describes her husband Pete). When things go wrong, or we forget, there is no one there to help. We don’t have that security of knowing someone will help if we get lost in the house or forget where something is….We don’t have the support of someone to cut up our food if we can no longer coordinate the use of a knife and fork.
Does this make us more inventive in the strategies we find?
Doe this make us more apt to cope better as we have to find a solution?
For some of us, that’s the case. I like living alone and would now find it difficult to have someone in the house moving things around.
However, how many more people living alone with dementia, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, don’t understand what’s happening to them…..?
How many don’t realise they’re having a problem…….?
How many become isolated and depressed because they no longer have the confidence to leave the house…….?
Where services are scarce, how many are ‘lost’ in the system……?
How many are too afraid to ask for help for fear of being put in a home..?
How many end up in care homes before it’s necessary because no one has been there to help them find ways to cope and explain to them what’s happening……..? They may only become visible to services, if they exist, when a crisis arises.
Maybe we need more resources in order to enable us to remain in our own homes because we don’t have anyone living with us to help. Makes me even more sad that my own region has abandoned me to my Gp because there are no resources for people under 65. My GP has 10 minutes to assess my situation………how many more people are out there living alone who don’t have access services or know where to get help? Yes, I have my daughters nearby, but Gemma quite rightly asked me after Chris’s programme – how will we know when you’re lost in the house or struggling?
Such a sad situation and a realisation that so much more has to be done for people living alone with dementia. More research into the best care and support needed for people living alone. A staring point would be knowing how many people are living alone – but specifically by age. The Alzheimers society has estimated that a third of all people with dementia actually live alone – so are a third of resources going into supporting them? Me thinks not……..