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World Alzheimer’s month

Laboratory Manager Francis Yongblah talks through his personal experiences supporting service users with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Thursday 21 September is the start of World Alzheimer’s Month. This month is essential for raising awareness, educating, encouraging support of and demystifying dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means symptoms can develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest cause of dementia.

There is lots of support out there for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and support for family members and loved ones. More can be found on the website about diagnosing dementia and further information about World Alzheimer’s Month can be found on the Alzheimer’s Society website.

A day in the life of a carer

While studying my degree in biomedical science, I had a part-time job working as a carer. This was a job that I wanted to take on to get a bit of frontline experience with the public and those that require the use of healthcare services. The role of being a carer was to visit the service user in their home to see how they were doing and to give much needed support to families and loved ones. I got to work with and support several service users with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

I always remember my first day and being quite anxious about what the job would entail. We drove up to see our first service user. On arrival we rang on the front doorbell before their wife came to open the door.

I initially found it quite upsetting on my first day to see individuals with so much life experience having loss of memory, or showing many different emotions due to confusion or frustration. On my first day I got to speak to the wife of our first service user. It was amazing to hear the lived experience of this individual.

I had learnt about all the travelling that they had done for work and that they had been all over Europe and the UK. I heard stories about when they were raising their children and seeing them grow. Although they had lost some of their memories, there would be moments that they would remember, or mention particular words, which I learnt were related to an event or a memory they still had. It was nice to see they could still be themselves – finding joy and being able to smile. There were sad times, where there was frustration or confusion, even when they were in their own home. While it was sad, it was good to be able to be present to support their family at those difficult moments.

I will always cherish the time that I worked as a carer and having the opportunity to work with those with Alzheimer’s/dementia. Most important was being able to support those families and loved ones who may have been going through a difficult time. My time as a carer has always linked to my career as a healthcare scientist… always having a line of sight to the patient.

Image Credit | Shutterstock

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