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Spotting the Early Signs of Dementia
We are all unique, and so is dementia. It affects people differently so no two people will have symptoms that develop in exactly the same way. However, while there is no standard “check list” for dementia, there are similar symptoms between those that develop the condition between Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

The most common signs of dementia

Declining memory
It’s fair to say that most of us are forgetful from time-to-time! We might misplace our keys or wallet, or on occasion forget the name of someone or something. With dementia, these little moments become a little more common and sometimes more concerning. Often it’s not just a name that’s out of reach but who a person is, or perhaps the route home becomes a challenge to remember. 

Language difficulties
Those living with dementia may find it difficult to accurately verbalise their thoughts. It may become noticeable when the person uses an incorrect word or takes longer than usual to respond. Problems with language occur because the diseases that cause dementia can affect the parts of the brain that control language. In some forms of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, it is likely to be one of the first symptoms that is noticed.

Familiar tasks become difficult 
At some point during the day, we all tend to do certain tasks on autopilot, like getting dressed, doing housework or making a meal. Those living with a form of dementia may start to get simple steps in these processes wrong. As well as struggling to complete familiar tasks, they may find it difficult to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.

Disorientation
It’s not uncommon for people living with dementia to lose track of where they are, as well as where they were going – even in a place they know well. Although we all lose track of the day of the week now and then, they may even become confused about the time of day, or even mix up night and day.

Changes in behaviour and mood
Behavioural changes are easiest to spot when you know someone well, but can be mistaken for stress, depression, or “just one of those days” – until it becomes most or all of those days. Sudden mood swings, noticeable agitation, major changes in emotional outlook, and even losing interest in hobbies or sleeping more than usual, may be an early sign of dementia.

Problems with concentration and planning 
Those living with dementia can find it challenging to concentrate on things in any environment, including their own home. From difficulty organising a calendar, to planning clothing appropriate for the weather or having trouble following the plot on a television programme; there are numerous other communication and logic signs that can develop with dementia.

If you believe that a relative or someone you care about may be displaying signs of Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, talk to your GP independently for advice. You can also read lots more great info on the Alzheimer's Society website and learn how dementia can be managed with the right care in the right environment. 

Award winning chef creates family fun day barbecue
Pony rides, a barbecue and a tombola were among the attractions at a family fun day held at Fernhill House this summer.   

Friends and relatives joined residents to enjoy a delicious meal cooked in the grounds by the home’s award winning chef Chris Williams.  

Chris has an impressive pedigree – he has worked with Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White and won AA rosettes and culinary accolades aplenty over the course of his 25 year career.   
 
A huge fan of organic and home grown produce, he has appeared on MasterChef and has just cured the pizza oven within Fernhill House’s two acre grounds, which will be inaugurated shortly.   

People across four generations were represented at the event – with some children visiting their great grandfather.   The event is one of an eclectic range of activities which reflect Fernhill’s ethos of fun, being an integral part of the wider community and of an ongoing relationship with the friends and family of those living at the home.   

Other activities include visits from musicians, authors, TV personalities and animals, a range of beauty and holistic therapies and trips to places of interest.   

The all inclusive residential fee enables friends and relatives to share meals and drinks with their loved ones as often as they wish – an unusual and popular feature aimed at ensuring Fernhill House is a home in the true sense of the word.

Singing Poppy Sisters bring vintage style and memories to Fernhill House
A pair of vintage musical entertainers proved so popular among residents at Fernhill House when they visited in the spring that they were invited back for a repeat performance.   

The Poppy Sisters – two real live sisters from Worcester who perform songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s, took residents on a trip down memory lane when they performed popular numbers from their younger days.   

Nancy and Rose are regular visitors to care homes across the Midlands and are also much in demand at vintage fayres, such as special events at the Severn Valley Railway.   

As well as performing tunes such as Chattanooga Choo Choo and Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree from the 40s, Will you still love me tomorrow andWhy do fools fall in love from the 50s and California Dreaming and Puppet on a String from the 60s, they also encouraged residents to dress up and sing along.   

The Poppy Sisters are particularly popular among those living with dementia, and for whom reliving their youth is often very therapeutic.   Indeed staff in the dementia community dress with a 1950s and 60s theme and many of the day-to-day activities are specifically designed to help bring back happy experiences from an earlier chapter of their lives.   

The visit was one of many different events held at Fernhill House for residents, their friends, family and the wider public.

Mobile zoo visit proves a hit
Fernhill House was invaded by snakes, chinchillas and giant rabbits this week – but there was no need to call out the environmental health inspectors. 

The visitors came along as part of an event staged by Worcestershire mobile zoo Animal Mania.   The specialist travelling party zoo spent an afternoon with residents, staff and members of the public who were able to stroke a range of furry, scaly and creepy creatures.   

The menagerie, which also includes bearded dragons, pythons, pygmy hedgehogs, tortoises and arachnids, is a popular attraction for care homes, schools and parties in the area – and certainly proved a hit across all ages of animal lovers at Fernhill House.   

It was one of an eclectic range of regular activities put on at the home – such as dancing, music recitals, comedy evenings, gym sessions, cookery masterclasses and celebrity talks – many of which are open to the public.

Sensory garden takes part in Fernhill Heath Open Gardens event
The sensory garden at Fernhill House was opened to the public at the weekend – as part of the wider Fernhill Heath Open Gardens event.   

Visitors were offered tea and cakes made by award winning chef Chris Williams – and offered local ice creams from the home’s own vintage bicycle stall.   

Hospitality manager Chris, who has worked with Marco Pierre White and Heston Blumenthal has appeared on MasterChef and has won AA rosettes and culinary accolades aplenty over the course of his 25-year career.   

Chris, whose is a huge fan of organic, home grown and locally sourced food, grows his own veg from seed at Fernhill House which he uses where possible in the meals he cooks for residents.   

The sensory garden, part of the wider two-acre grounds at Fernhill House, is one of many stimulating and unusual features at the home which, when at full capacity, will accommodate 36 people living with dementia and 30 frail elderly people.   

The dementia community also has a pub, shop and indoor potting shed and staff dress informally in 1950s and 60s clothing.   

An unusual all inclusive price package means residents can invite friends and family to dine with them as often as they like at no extra cost. The same goes for drinks in the bar, and tea and cakes in the bistro. The beauty therapists, chiropodist and hairdresser all have experience of working with people with dementia.   

Fernhill House manager Peta Mandleberg, a registered nurse who has worked in the care sector for many years, said: “It was a wonderful afternoon. Our different approach to helping people enjoy their later years includes ensuring that the home is part of the wider community. 

"As well as encouraging friends and family to join their loved ones for dinner, we hold regular free evening talks often by well-known celebrities, which are open to anyone who’d like to come along. The open gardens event gave us a chance to share our beautiful grounds with a wider audience and also to ensure they felt welcome within the Fernhill House community.”

 

May