Reflective Account

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This essay is based on my practice experience during my hundred-day placement with a local Adult Social Service Department. The intention of this essay is to look at dementia and how it affects people that look after family members who have dementia and how it develops social work practice. During this period I was involved with a family that had an elderly member with dementia. I chose to focus on this family for this assignment as it offered a great scope on the area of depression experienced by those who give care to family members with dementia. The whole family had been forced to immigrate to Britain from Uganda in the 70s due to political upheavals when the government of that time gave 24 hours to all Asians in that country to leave or face imprisonment or death. They Settled in London where they set up a curry business. When it came time for them to retire they moved to Margate. By then their only child had taken over the running of the business and had relocated it to Birmingham. On the numerous occasions that I did as part of the assessment on her husband who had been referred to the department she said that she was Stressed, and frustrated and could not cope on her own anymore. She looked tired informed her that I would return and carry out a Carers Assessment, a legal requirement with any assessment done under the Community Care Act 1990 and the subsequent legislation The Carer’s (Recognition and Service Act) 1995. Caring for an individual or a related dementia can be challenging and at times overwhelming. Stress and frustration impacts greatly on carers’ physical and mental health, as such depression amongst carers of people with dementia is overlooked and in most cases never treated. Significant high levels of depression are found in individuals providing care to patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Carers of people with dementia experience various emotional problems during the course of the illness; the most significant of these problems is depression (Rabins et al, 1982). It is also well documented that carers of dementia patients show more depressive symptoms of dementia than age and gender (Gallagher, et al, 1989). This assignment will look mainly on this mental health issue but will also focusing on factors that are responsible for depression in carer’s of people with dementia and looking at the ethnic, cultural and gender differences. I will also look at coping methods used by those who give care to members of the family diagnosed with dementia. To begin with, for the reader to understand what dementia is, I have to provide a definition for this condition. Dementia is the global impairment of higher cortical functions, including memory, the capacity to solve the problems of day- to- day living, the performance of learning perceptuo- motor skills, the correct use of social skills and control of emotional reaction reactions, in the absence of gross “clouding of consciousness”, (World Health Organisation, 1986). It has also been defined as a serious mental disorder caused by brain disease or injury that affects the ability to think, remember and behave normally (Oxford Dictionary, 2000). Most dementia illnesses are progressive and the symptoms differ from one individual to another and also from the early stages to the later stages. The early stages of dementia may not be difficult for the family members but once it progresses to the moderate stage it offers a challenge to them, as the person with dementia often requires a high level of support from them to enable the person to function properly. It is at this stage that family members begin to realise the full extent of the demands that lay ahead of them. (Draper, 2004) notes that, ‘While the deteriorating memory function is a problem, it is usually not the main attribute that impacts on the carer. It is more often the personality and behavioural changes that causes the most concern, having the greatest effect on those carers who live with the...
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