The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, as well as changes in mood or behaviour. These symptoms are often less apparent to begin with, but over time can become harder to manage. Dementia symptoms are often caused by Alzheimer’s disease or brain damage caused by a stroke. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.

Talking Therapies

Talking therapies might include counselling, psychotherapy and CBT. It can be a useful way for people living with dementia to gain support and to make sense of living with their condition. Many people living with dementia struggle to make sense of their diagnosis and how their life is changing. They may feel lost, confused, vulnerable or anxious. Anxiety over what the future might hold is especially common. This anxiety may begin while undertaking an assessment process in the lead up to getting a formal diagnosis.

Research suggests that counselling can play a particularly important role in helping people with an early diagnosis of dementia – for example, by reducing feelings of depression. It is best practice for professionals to offer pre-diagnostic counselling to support people through this often difficult and uncertain time.

Finding talking therapies in your area:

  • Your GP is a good place to start if you are looking for a therapist. Talking therapies accessed through the NHS are usually free of charge. Many of the talking therapies for depression and anxiety are now available through an NHS programme called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). Your doctor can refer you to a local IAPT service where you will be assessed and offered support. This could include signposting to relevant activities, self-help materials or psychological therapies. Some IAPT services also now offer people the option to refer themselves without having to go through their GP.
  • GPs can often provide details of other local therapists and some GP surgeries have talking therapy services based in their practices. While talking therapies are becoming increasingly available, you may still find that there is a wait before you are seen.
  • Your GP or local social services department may also have information about local charities offering services – the number of your local social services department will be in the phone book.
    Another option is to find a private therapist. There are many ways to find a private therapist but a recommendation from someone you trust – or possibly also your GP – can be very helpful. Most private services operate a sliding scale for fees.
  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can provide more information about local counselling and psychotherapy services. For an accredited CBT therapist, contact the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). For a clinical psychologist or counselling psychologist, contact the British Psychological Society (BPS).

You can refer yourself for a talking therapy in Somerset by using the following link:
https://www.somersettalkingtherapies.nhs.uk/contact-us/refer-yourself/

Alternative Therapies

There are some alternative therapies which might benefit people living with dementia and their carers. They work by treating some of the conditions related to dementia, e.g. sleep problems or agitation.
The following services provide these types of treatments:

Drugs

There is not yet a drug to cure dementia however there are some drug treatments which can help to relieve some of the symptoms or slow their progression.