About Dementia

 

Dementia is a degenerative disease of the brain that occurs when some of the brain's nerve cells are damaged and start to die.  The nerve cells (neurons) are responsible for passing messages around the body via electrical impulse and chemical transfer - everything from controlling speech to blinking and breathing - and when damaged, they are no longer able to communicate with one another.  The result is the brain 'forgets' how to perform simple tasks, along with names, places and memories.

 

Dementia can be caused by a number of different things - including Alzheimer's, CJD, Stroke and Huntington's - and each affects the brain and the patient in a different way.  Dementia is progressive, in many cases very serious, and currently there is no cure.  What is key is that it is not a single illness, rather a collection of symptoms and their after effects, which manifest differently from patient to patient.  Often, e.g. in the case of stroke (vascular dementia), symptoms can appear overnight; in contrast, senile dementia (dementia brought about by aging) can onset gradually over time, so that diagnosis is difficult - many people simply put the symptoms of senile dementia down to 'being old'.  In fact, age is the most significant factor associated with developing dementia.

 

One in 50 people between the ages of 65 and 70 has a form of dementia; one in five people over the age of 80 suffers and one in three over the age of 95*

 

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion, trouble reasoning, difficulty communicating, depression and inability to perform every-day tasks like making a cup of tea.  Many of these symptoms can be frightening, particularly when dementia sufferers do not understand that they have the condition. They can get anxious, even when in familia environments, or can get aggressive towards themselves and others around them when they become frustrated at no longer having control over their minds.  This makes it very difficult for dementia patients to live alone or even to function regularly as part of a wider society.

 

The issue of whether to find a cure for dementia is, perhaps surprisingly, rather controversial.  In the UK, many people feel that it is kinder to leave people with dementia alone, as the process of medical appointments, medical testing, drug treatments and so on can be quite tiring, upsetting and confusing.  However, with average life spans  ever increasing, the aging population of the country means that dementia will become a more and more frequent and worrying problem.  In fact, some authorities are saying that dementia could soon become a national health problem and major public-health issue.

 

 

Some Good News

 

60,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to dementia; delaying the onset of dementia by just 5 years would reduce this number by half.*

However, while the number of people with dementia in the UK is on the rise, there are some new techniques being piloted that can help ease their daily lives and enable them to reintegrate into, or exist independently in, society.  One such method is the Total Drama Technique, a programme of brain training and artistic activity set to music, that exists to improve the holistic wellbeing of dementia patients.  This 'creative drama' technique focuses on an improvement in dementia patients to cope with their situation, to relearn social skills, develop appropriate peer relations and avoid negative and harmful interactions.

 

 

Things to look out for

 

Someone suffering with dementia may suffer from any number of these symptoms:

 

  1. Trouble reasoning
  2. Confusion, even when in familiar environments.
  3. Difficulty communicating
  4. Short-term memory loss
  5. Inability to perform ordinary tasks e.g. making a cup of tea
  6. Aggression, anger or frustration at self, others and situation
  7. Depression and isolation
  8. Finding it difficult to follow conversations or television programmes
  9. Jumping in with completely unrelated thoughts
  10. Forgetting simple things like a person's name or where keys are kept
  11. Repeating things

 

 

 


 
Important 

  If you think that you, or someone you
  know, might be suffering from any of
  the symptoms of dementia, contact
  your GP or the Alzheimer's Society for
  help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can Drama help?

 

Drama is widely known for its cognitive benefits when it comes to children's development, but did you know it can also be used effectively to help adults with complex mental difficulties?  There are a number of ways drama can help dementia patients; some of these are:

 

Cooperation, Collaboration, Teamwork,
Discussing, Exchanging ideas;

Confidence, Verbal Fluency,
Communication skills, Articulating
thoughts;

Trust, Opening up and Sharing,
Expression;

Memory, Concentration,
Perseverance;

Imagination, Creativity, Making
Decisions;

Problem Solving, Reasoning,
Observation Skills;

Enjoyment; Relaxation; Fun

Physical Fitness; Wellbeing

Coordination; Locomotion; Balance and
Control

 

 

The Total Drama Technique
Created by Alexander Dawson

 

T: 07531 150199
E: tdt@target-arts.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Drama Technique  2012  owned by TARGET  All Rights Reserved