My real life insight into dementia (part 1) by Abigail Henry

I’m a cognitive behavioural therapist who joined the IAPT team at Touchstone this month and this is my first ever blog. I’ve chosen dementia as my first topic, quite simply because I was asked! 🙂

Dementia is a term I understand but is not something which I’ve ever fully considered. I guess the way life is set-up means if we’re not dealing with things of immediate concern then there seems to be little room (energy wise) to devote thoughts/effort to things slightly more removed. So when I was asked what I knew of dementia, the answer was “very little, actually”. I thought this was something I needed to change.

I thought it would be a good idea to speak with a family member who has first-hand knowledge of dementia. I thought about what would be useful to know, prepared some questions and got fired up for interviewing …however, when I called, she was unavailable because she’d had to make a last minute dash to her mother (the one with dementia) who’d accused the carer of “rough handling”. This set off a whole list of new thoughts in my head about her mother’s capacity to understand the accusation and how it would be determined what to do next. The impact on the individual, the family and the carer was so much wider than I had imagined.

Interested in understanding the real impact of the disease as it happens on the ground, I made the decision not to write some re-hashed version of the information I could find online, but to wait for a more suitable time to complete the interview. In considering this further it dawned on me incidents such as these were probably commonplace and may impact ability to engage in treatment with me. Should I therefore be considering this as part of my introductory meeting with new clients – and throughout my sessions – and to allow added flexibility? I added a further couple of questions to my interview.

So, for now, I’ll conclude to return in part B hopefully providing useful insight into living with dementia and what considerations a professional might wish to think about. See you soon…

Abigail Henry, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), Touchstone

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