Charity says people with dementia feel isolated during festive period

Kim Davies and her husband Rob Davies from Southsea. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (150971-7)
Kim Davies and her husband Rob Davies from Southsea. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150971-7)

Alzheimer’s Society visits Fareham to answer questions on dementia

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THE wife of a dementia patient has told how the couple have had to change the way they celebrate Christmas since the diagnosis.

Kim Davies, from Southsea, cares for her husband Rob who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 51 in 2010.

We used to have up to 20 people here for Christmas but now it has changed completely

Kim Davies

She is speaking about their experiences after research found dementia patients can find the festive period both isolating and challenging.

Alzheimer’s Society asked people living with the condition how they felt, and 51 per cent said they found Christmas to be the most isolating time of year.

But 49 per cent also said they found it stressful due to a change in their routine.

Nearly four in 10 people with the disease found shopping for presents challenging because shops were too busy, while 38 per cent felt the extra noise associated with the excitement of the festive season can be frightening or stressful.

Kim, 51, said: ‘We used to have up to 20 people here for Christmas but now it has changed completely – from not having twinkly lights due to seizures to changes in routine being an issue.

‘I think when you’re dealing with dementia you become a prisoner to the illness.

‘We’ve lost a lot of friends due to the dementia and, because Rob’s younger, I think people struggle to understand how it’s affecting him.

‘This year we went to my son’s house for Christmas Day, but we were only there a couple of hours because it’s difficult to get Rob out of the house.

‘We live every day as it comes. Nothing is a big deal to me any more; everything is kept low key.’

Despite the challenges, people affected by dementia have told Alzheimer’s Society there are things that will make their Christmas a more enjoyable experience.

This includes seeing friends and family more frequently, and keeping to their daily routine as much as possible, such as set meal times. Sharing experiences and talking to others in a similar situation were also cited as important to having the best possible Christmas.

Lucie Debenham, Alzheimer’s Society services manager for Portsmouth and surrounding areas, said the charity likes to support people during this time of year.

‘While for many this time of year is full of excitement, we must not forget that dementia doesn’t stop at Christmas,’ she said.

‘Feelings such as isolation and confusion can be intensified. We are here to support people affected by dementia to cope.’

For more information visit alzheimers.org.uk/supportatchristmas.