Caring Moment PAGES

'Caring Moments'
Elizabeth Bezant and Pamela Eaves


Catching a Cuppa

Mary and I have been friends for almost as long as I can remember. We’ve been through the excitements and trials of life together, we’ve laughed and cried together, and watched as our children have grown up together.
As with all true Brits our friendship was cemented over cups of tea and biscuits. However, when her husband of 50years was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I was at a loss of how to help her. The pain and burden was evident in her face, and growing every time I saw her. The popping around and sharing a cup of tea didn’t really seem enough any more.

Thankfully, though, the solution wasn’t too far away. Now my newly retired husband and I both pop around for a cuppa, only he makes it for himself and Mary’s husband, while Mary and I nip down the road and sit in the garden of the local coffee shop. It’s amazing the difference a change of space and not having to constantly watch can make, to say nothing of a cuppa with an old friend.


Revolving Doors

As the Alzheimer’s progressed and the ability of her hands decreased, my aunt would sit on her bed and watch sweetly as her carer put on her shoes for her.

‘Can you tell me, dear,’ my aunt would always ask, ‘Am I coming in or going out?’


Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning. It’s a broad term, but simply put, it describes loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills, and what would be considered normal emotional reactions.

There are many different forms of dementia and each has its own causes. The most common are:

Alzheimer’s Disease
A progressive and degenerative illness, Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 50 – 70% of all dementia cases, which makes it the most common cause of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease attacks the brain, causing brain cells to shrink or disappear, and abnormal deposits to build up. These deposits slowly choke the remaining brain cells, interrupting the communication within the cell networks, eventually making it impossible to complete, remember or relearn even the simplest habit.
Vascular dementia

This broad term is used to cover the second most common form of dementia, one that’s caused through lack of blood and oxygen to the brain.

Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD)
This is the name given to the dementia that attacks the frontal lobes or temporal lobes. Within the human body the right and left frontal lobes govern mood, behaviour, self-control and judgement. The right and left temporal lobes are involved in the organisation of sensory input, or put another way, understanding what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell.

Parkinson’s Disease
Characterised by tremors, stiffness in limbs and joints and speech impediments, Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.

While not a form of dementia, some people do develop the condition in the late states of Parkinson’s.

Huntington’s Disease
An inherited and degenerative brain disease, Huntington’s Disease affects the mind and body, with the majority of cases resulting in dementia.

Dementia with Lewy bodies
Lewy bodies are abnormal spherical structures that develop inside the nerve cells of the brain, causing the cells to degenerate and die.

Alcohol-related dementia or Korsakoff’s Syndrome
As the name implies, Alcohol-related dementia is caused by prolonged and excessive use of alcohol, especially when it’s accompanied by poor diet, low Vitamin B1 (thiamine).

AIDS-related dementia
When someone has the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), they may develop a complication known as AIDS-related dementia or AIDS dementia Complex (ADC). This does not affect everyone who has HIV_AIDS, but it is still caused by the HIV virus.

Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease is an extremely rare, but fatal, brain disorder caused by a protein particle called a ‘prion’.

Diagnosed in only one in every million people, the early symptoms include failing memory, changes of behaviour and lack of co-ordination. The disease progresses rapidly and mental deterioration is pronounced. The person may have vision problems including blindness, involuntary muscle jerks or twitching, stiff limbs, difficulty with speech and swallowing. Most people will lapse into a coma before death.

Dementia can affect anybody, and while it’s most common after the age of 65 years, dementia has been diagnosed in people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, and, very occasionally, even younger.

Even though most people with the disease are older, it’s very important to remember that the majority of older people do not develop dementia. It is not a normal part of ageing. In fact, current statistics show that only one in four to five people of 85 and over has dementia.

While most cases of the disease are not inherited, the answer to this question really depends on the individual case. If you have concerns about inheriting dementia, discuss them with your doctor and get a firm medical diagnosis.

The answer to this question depends on many factors, including the cause of the dementia, the age at which the person was diagnosed and their general health.

Stages of dementia can vary greatly from one individual to another. Some people can live up to 20 years after they have been diagnosed, including many years with relatively mild impairment, while others can decline rapidly and die within a few years of diagnosis.


  • Introduction
  • What is dementia?
  • Adapting
  • Planning ahead
  • Telling children and adolescents
  • How dementia affects carers
  • Safety issues and environment
  • The Sensory Garden
  • Changes
  • Changed behaviours
  • Sundowning
  • Wandering
  • Sleeping problems
  • Communication issues
  • At home
  • How to help with dressing
  • Eating
  • Hygiene
  • Other hygiene issues
  • Managing incontinence
  • Lifestyle
  • Driving
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Travelling
  • Help
If you're interested in getting a paperback copy of this book it's currently available from: 
The Bodhi Tree bookstore cafe, cnr Oxford & Scarborough Beach Rd, Mt Hawthorn. WA 
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