“A blog a day” for #DAW2017 by #AHPDementia #ThankYou

If you follow #DAW2017 you can see, last week was a busy week for everyone in Scotland. To support the week we shared  a blog a day from a few of the professions who wanted to share who they are and how they CAN help if living with dementia.  If you missed any of the blogs, you can review the blogs here and let’s keep talking about dementia in 2017. 

On reflection

What was your favourite bit of Dementia Awareness Week?

Share a photo of your best bit to share on in our photo album?

Thank you to all our bloggers this week:

Gillian (who is not a tweeter but happy to share her expertise on social media)

Caroline @radcaca1

Rebecca @rmakellett

Claire @ClaireCraig_PT

@Karin & @RCOT  for supporting occupational therapists in Scotland in partnership with @Alzscot

@musictherapyUK for supporting music therapists in Scotland in partnership with @Alzscot

@AHPScot for supporting and posting our blogs in partnership throughout the week

 Thank you to ALL our readers, followers, supporters and blog contributors.

We launched this blog during Dementia Awareness Week in 2014 and we said then, “Dementia is frightening. Talking about it helps us make sure that nobody faces dementia alone and through this blog we want to keep the country talking about it.”

So let’s keep talking about dementia!



With Physiotherapy you CAN #DAW17

Over the last few years I have been spending increasing amounts of time working with people with advanced dementia and their carers and I am surprised at how often I hear people say they can’t do something because of Dementia.  Physiotherapists as AHPs actively promote what people CAN do – and it is exciting to be part of a community that helps people with Dementia to live well.

With Physiotherapy you CAN……….Stay mobile for longer.

As Dementia progresses, it can affect a persons ability to move in many ways.  Take for example a task such as standing up from sitting – A day to day activity many of us take for granted, which includes several processes including:

  • hearing, understanding and processing the task
  • deciding to stand up
  • sending a message from the brain to the muscles and joints to move and carry out the task.

Dementia can interrupt any one of these processes making the task difficult to complete.  But we want to keep people mobile – and the following tips can help.

  • Instead of asking someone to stand up, show them – through gestures such as sweeping a hand up their back
  • Keep requests short and positive – “stand up” or “come with me”
  • Ask someone to do something – or go somewhere – they may stand up automatically.

A Physiotherapist can help by determining whether the person is unable to stand up due to physical or cognitive reasons and can then develop a plan to make the task easier which could include communication hints and tips, exercises, or advice on moving and handling.

With Physiotherapy you CAN……….Improve your posture.

As dementia progresses, people may begin to find it difficult to stand or sit up straight.  This can be caused by pain, fatigue, lack of muscle control or mood. Some things you can try to help someone maintain a good posture include:

  • Making sure that chairs are not too deep or saggy – they may look comfy, but they will not provide any back support and can be difficult to get out of.
  • Doing some simple exercises every day – try rolling your shoulders in a circle backwards and stretching your hands up over your head.

Physiotherapy can help by assessing for specialist supportive seating, providing stretches, exercises and massage to reduce muscle tension and improve posture, and linking with orthotics services to provide any splints required. As they have a strong understanding of the physical causes of postural changes, they can help to ensure people are able to sit and lie comfortably.

With Physiotherapy you CAN……….Remain physically active for longer.

Physical activity is an important part of keeping well.  Whatever you enjoy be that walking, dancing, swimming or football, finding a way to continue to take part can be a good way to maintain health.

  • Check out your local area for activities such as walking football, tea dances and walking groups.
  • If these are no longer possible, consider dementia specific groups such as sporting memories and groups run by Alzheimer Scotland for more tailored activities.

A Physiotherapist can assist you to find exercises or activities that you enjoy, and find ways of adapting activities to make taking part possible. They may run specific classes you can attend as well!

With Physiotherapy you CAN………..Manage your pain.

People with dementia can show signs of distressed behaviour due to pain, yet be unable to tell others where it is coming from.  So if you are concerned that a person with dementia may be in pain, consider trying the following.

  • touch an area you think may be causing a person pain and ask if it hurts.
  • Watch for changes in facial expression throughout the day – this can indicate what is making them sore.
  • Consider ways of easing pain without pills– heat packs, movement or rest can be helpful.

A Physiotherapist can assess a persons pain using movement, special tests and pain scales to determine the cause of pain and then help reduce it using techniques that may include electrotherapy, heat, acupuncture, stretching, treatment specific injuries techniques or advice.

With Physiotherapy you CAN………..Reduce your falls risk.

“Older people with Dementia experience 8 times more falls than those without Dementia”  – This was highlighted by Lynn on her previous blog on Dementia and Falls https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/dementia-and-falls/    – where you will also find some top tips to reduce those risks.  A Physiotherapist can help identify personal risk factors, and will aim to reduce these with strength and balance exercises, adapted physical activity and motivational support, all of which can affect mood. They can also provide walking aids and link with other AHPs who can provide additional support.

With Physiotherapy you CAN……….Continue to do the things you enjoy.

So if a persons physical health is changing, consider a Physiotherapy assessment- Dementia can and does affect peoples physical abilities but for many people it does not mean that they need to stop moving – risks may be present, but sometimes they are worth taking and even little changes can have a big impact.

My questions 

  • When a task becomes difficult, do you stop doing it completely or try to find an alternative way to do it?
  • What are you top tips to keep physically active?

Contributors: Claire Craig

I am a Specialist Mental Health Physiotherapist in Greenock.  I am passionate about promoting living well with Dementia and other Mental Health conditions and want to celebrate the role Physiotherapists can play in this.  Oh and I also love to dance so I share this skill widely and promote the value of dancing anytime I can!


5 things you should know about: Speech & Language Therapy for people living with dementia

  1. The title “Speech and Language Therapist” can be misleading.

Although lots of our training is about spoken language, we cover all aspects of human communication. Everybody uses non-verbal communication in all  interactions, whether it is in the way we use eye contact, what facial expressions we have, laughter, yawning, sighing, whistling, crying out, shrugging,  what position we are sitting in. Things we do, objects we fetch, what we wear, all convey a message too. If I put the kettle on, my colleagues expect a brew up, even if I don’t say anything. If I put on my walking boots, everybody knows I am going for a walk.  All of these things are forms of communication, and if the use of words is limited, as can happen with dementia, how we use non-verbal communication becomes all the more important.

  1. It follows that Speech and Language Therapy doesn’t always focus on speech.

Even if spoken language is good, when a person has dementia they often need more time to process a message or plan a response. Thinking about the way non-verbal communication can support speech can really help us to give the person that little bit of extra time they need to take part in a conversation successfully. A spoken word is gone in a flash, whereas a picture, object, newspaper headline or even a gesture can last much longer, helping the person to hold on to what has been said.

  1. Speech and Language Therapy is not just about working with the person with dementia.

The changes and adaptations have to be made by their communication partners. As well as thinking about what non-verbal communication we use and how we can adapt it for the person with dementia, it is important for us to learn their ways of using behaviour to communicate. Each of us has a repertoire of habitual behaviours, and they all mean something. If we are good at reading what is behind the behaviour, we can respond appropriately and are helping the person communicate their feelings and wishes effectively.

  1. The people closest to the person with dementia are the best therapists.

Recognising a person’s attempts to communicate is all about valuing them as an individual. When communication is limited, for whatever reason, it is very easy for a person to become isolated, withdrawn and unhappy or distressed. The more we know about a person, the things in their life which make them feel proud or happy, the people, places, music, other things they are fond of and why, the more we can support them to be themselves and feel valued.

  1. Speech and Language Therapists often help people with dementia who have difficulty eating and drinking.

Sometimes this involves avoiding certain foods or modifying the texture. If a person is coughing or choking, or having frequent chest infections, a Speech and Language swallowing assessment may be needed. But perhaps surprisingly, thinking about the communication techniques already described can sometimes solve less severe problems. Knowing the person well, knowing their preferences and routines, thinking about the environment and how they respond to it, being sensitive to what their behaviour is communicating and making sure they have all the time they need, can all make a huge difference.

Thank you for reading my post.

  • What questions or comments would you like to leave for me to answer?
  • What resources could we share to make sure we all have good conversations?

Rebecca Kellett, specialist Speech and Language Therapist, NHS Lothian

Maximising Psychological Wellbeing: with music therapy you CAN

Alzheimer Scotland has been working with music therapists in Scotland and the British Association of Music Therapists to share what and who music therapists are and how they CAN help you if you are living with dementia.  To begin this work a postcard has been designed and is being shared during #DAW2017

Music therapy supports communication, relationships and psychological wellbeing through engagement in music

Music Therapy can…

  • Help keep connections alive – music is a channel for communication and engagement with others, helping maintain relationships with loved ones and carers.
  • Helps you to look after your psychological wellbeing – helping you to share emotions and feelings with others without the needs for words.
  • Enable self-expression and creativity – supporting you to engage your mind, enabling you to maintain skills and abilities
  • Stimulate – playing music and singing with others can stimulate your brain and energise you, supporting both mental and physical health

Ask a Music Therapist……

Thank you for reading our blog.  Please leave a comment or a question to enable us to talk about dementia and music therapy.

You will find useful resources at this website including information on Music Therapy and dementia – bringing back the feeling of life.

*Music therapy is an established clinical intervention, which is delivered by HCPC registered music therapists to help people whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs.

Maximising Physical Wellbeing: Radiographers making dementia our business!

My name is Caroline and I am a Diagnostic Radiographer working within the NHS. I have a special interest in Dementia care within the x-ray department due to personal experience. My grand father lived with Dementia for many years and often required hospital care. This was a number of years ago when little was known about the condition or how best to care for individuals living with Dementia. As a result the experiences that we had could be varied depending upon the knowledge of the staff involved. It became clear to me that by making Dementia everyone’s business we could enhance the experience of those living with Dementia who visit the x-ray department.

Whether you are in hospital due to an emergency or planned admission you will inevitably visit the x-ray department. This can be to either undergo a variety of x-rays or scans to investigate your symptoms, or to receive treatment for cancer.

Whatever the reason for your visit we require your co-operation and that of those who may accompany you. By gaining your trust and making you feel at ease, we can ensure that we provide you with the best possible experience and outcome from the test or treatment that you may be undergoing.

We know that around 1 in 3 people are estimated to be living with Dementia and almost all of these individuals will undergo some form of imaging or other treatments by radiography. These startling figures have led our profession to prioritise education on the subject of Dementia for staff and students. Ensuring staff have access to these learning resources will enable our healthcare teams to offer the best experience to people with dementia, carers and relatives. Only by educating healthcare staff can we be sure that best practice is achieved.

The Society of Radiographers (SOR) is the professional body which provides Radiographers with education, support and guidance. Over the last few years the SOR has worked hard to provide links and publications to educate and support Radiographers care for people living with Dementia. They have worked with The Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland to ensure they get the correct information based on research and patient experience.

I have enclosed the links to this literature at the end of this blog.
As a radiographer leading a team within a large Imaging department I take the role of staff training and development seriously. Staff are encouraged to share good practice and reflect on their experiences.

Ask a Radiographer
It is inevitable that as Radiographers we will not always get it right. I would encourage everyone to let us know when you feel we have given you a good service. Equally please inform us when you feel that we could be doing better. Only by examining our practice and learning from patient and carer’s experiences can we ensure we improve our practice.

Caring for People with Dementia: a clinical practice guideline for the radiography workforce (imaging and radiotherapy).
This clinical practice guideline is a comprehensive set of evidence-based recommendations for the whole radiographic workforce caring for people with dementia and their carers when undergoing imaging and/or radiotherapy. It has been developed systematically using the best available evidence from research and expert opinion, including service users, and subjected to peer professional, lay and external review. The guideline has recommendations for good practice for individual members of the radiographic workforce, service managers, academic institutions and the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR).

#DAW2017 meets #AHPDementia: With Occupational Therapy you CAN…..

Alzheimer Scotland has been working with a group of occupational therapists in Scotland and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists to share what and who occupational therapists are and how they CAN help you if you are living with dementia.

Last year we developed a postcard and it is being shared again during #DAW2017. We learnt last year,  you liked the postcard but were looking for information on how to contact an occupational therapist.  So this time we have added a space for an occupational therapist in your area to leave their contact details.

Occupation therapy improves health and wellbeing through participation in occupation

Occupational therapy CAN:

  • Help you to use your strengths and abilities to stay active in your everyday life
  • Help you make small changes to make life easier at home, in the community or at your work
  • Advise family and friends on how to support you to live well with dementia
  • Advise your family and friends on how to look after their own health

What next?

The same group of occupational therapists are building on the ideas shared in the postcard, and developing top tips for you based on the questions you ask us when we meet you.  The three tips we are looking to include are:

  • Staying active in everyday life to help you to keep doing what you enjoy and what’s important to you.
  • Taking care of yourself to help you to look after your own health and stay connected to family and friends
  • What you can do at home to make small changes to make life easier

We hope to have this completed by the end of September and will share this with you in a number of different ways including this blog.


Ask an occupational therapist……….

Are you looking for tips on how to manage day to day, to stay active and keep connected with your local community?  Do you have a question on how occupational therapy CAN support you or your family? Leave a question on this blog post and we will do our best to answer or share resources with you that might help.

Allied Health Professionals: Maximising Physical Wellbeing

Dietitians CAN help you tell the facts from fiction during #DAW2017

We are bombarded with messages about food and nutrient on a daily basis in the newspapers, on television and on social media.  Often it is difficult to know what to believe.  So this year during Dietitians week (12-16th June) we are look at how dietitians can help you tell the facts from the fiction.

FACT – no two people are alike!  It is true that every one of us eats and drinks on a daily basis.  However we don’t eat or drink the same things.  Whether you need advice from a dietitian to help you stay well nourished and hydrated will depend on how your dementia is affecting your abilities and if you have any other health conditions.

Often when people hear that someone has Dementia the reaction is to think about what the person can’t do.  But everyone has their own experiences, skills and knowledge, so that is simply not true.  Instead we should focus on what you CAN do.  Dietitians provide information and advice on a wide variety of nutrition topics to help you find the right information to support you.  The British Dietetic Website has a range of fact sheets you can access at https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/home

Let’s bust a few more myths!

  1. If you have dementia you should not cook? FICTION

FACT Try using a step by step cooking guide – this can be as detailed as you need such as how to use  a peeler, opening or boil vegetables.  Laminating these preparation techniques can be useful to maintain independence.  Pictures can also be useful if you find too many words distracting.

FACT Cook together –  It can be more fun!  Ask friends or family to cook with you.  If you forget a step your cooking partner can remind you on what needs to be done.

FACT Bulk cook and freeze  – extra portions of meals can be put away on days when you feel able to cook if you have days where you are not able to cook.  Using clear bags or boxes can make foods easier to see in the freezer.  Label them with what they are and the date they were put away.

FACT Use familiar utensils and equipment – new kitchen items can be more difficult to use.  If using the oven or hob becomes challenging, you could try using a microwave or table top grill.

  1. If you have dementia you can’t have a healthy balanced diet? FICTION

FACT Dietitians recommend you should try to eat a balanced diet.  By this we mean eating in a way that allows you to have all the right nutrients in the right amounts to keep you well.   You will have probably have seen the Eatwell Guide that gives information on the amount of each food you should try to eat.  However sometimes dementia can affect the way you taste food.

FACT Your likes and dislikes may change.  It may be that stronger foods or sweet foods become more appealing.  You may find that you enjoy foods you previously wouldn’t have enjoyed.

FACT Be adventurous – try new foods and drinks from time to time.

FACT Sweet foods can still be healthy.  Let’s look at rice pudding for example.  It does contain calories or energy but it also contains a good source of protein and calcium.  Pairing this with some tinned, fresh or frozen fruit will help to provide vitamins and fiber.  Resulting in a balanced meal!

  1. Taking a nutritional supplement can help your dementia? FICTION

FACT A range of nutritional supplements such as ginkgo biloba, B vitamins and vitamin E have been linked with improvements for someone with dementia.  Unfortunately there is limited or no evidence to support that they are beneficial, although research is ongoing.

FACT Eat a wide range of foods.  This is the best way to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy.  However if you miss out a group of foods such as fruit and vegetables, you may benefit from a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.


  1.  Losing weight and eating less is part of the aging process? FICTION

FACT It is not true that losing weight is a natural part of the aging process.

When someone loses weight unintentionally or loses weight quickly they should visit there GP.  A referral can be made to the Dietitian for further assessment and advice if needed.

With Dietitians you CAN….

  • Be assessed, diagnosed and receive personalised treatment for nutrition and dietary problems.
  • Understand how to turn scientific evidence can be turned into practical changes in what you eat and drink.
  • Make dietary changes to help treat a range of physical health conditions.

Ask a Dietitian …….

Thank you for reading my blog during #DAW2017

I welcome any comments on the facts and fiction ideas I have shared with you today

Gillian McMillan

Specialist Dietitian – Mental Health, NHS Lanarkshire