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Dementia Support Tenerife 

Dementia Support Tenerife started 2 years ago. When I moved to Tenerife 8 years ago I brought both my parents with me, Mum had Alzheimer’s and Dad had vascular dementia. I was a dementia specialist nurse in the UK prior to moving to Tenerife.

Whilst looking after my parents here, I found that there was a lack of services available to ‘tap’ into within the ex-pat community, especially stimulating therapy and groups to join for them to interact with others. I also noticed that many of the premises here were not ‘dementia friendly’ and this led to a good deal of searching for places I could take them on a day or night out. So I felt that with my experiences I would start the group on face book and whilst there was some interest life got in the way of developing my idea to support others, other than online. But what you see today is down to my being contacted by Helen who supports her ex husband who has Lewy Body dementia. She had seen that music and movement therapy sessions can have a beneficial effect to those living with dementia and wanted to offer her services to host these as she has many years of working within the entertainment/music industry, she found my group and after a few conversations the spark was back and the need to develop the support, care and therapy for those living with dementia, along with education and support for those caring for someone was reborn.

What are the aims of the group?

Our vision is to provide support to those living with Dementia in Tenerife, for those living with the disease and their carers. Often those with a diagnosis become isolated as their friends stop visiting as they think there is no point. Many are elderly, many live alone, many do not have family on the island.
Our logo symbolises our group. We wanted the elephant to show that people living with dementia never forget, they just store and express in-formation differently. The heart shows the love, warmth and compassion given by the group and the balloons express our philosophies, providing support, encourage-ment and caring.
What type of therapy sessions will you be providing?
As I said music and movement which will be starting in January in Silencio. There are plans to do swimming sessions with a qualified swimming instructor, table top gardening, craft sessions and we have a lovely doggie who can provide pet therapy. We also have plans to hold a Tea Dance a few times a year. We are open to more suggestions too.

So who will provide this support?

There are a core group of people who have come together, although we welcome anyone who wishes to be involved. We all have a connection to dementia in some way. Some are currently caring for loved ones, some have done this in the past. Some have professional experience in this area and others just want to give forward their skills.

How can you support carers?

By providing the therapy support sessions they will be able to bring the person they are caring for, allow them to interact with the session and others and then they can sit on the sidelines, have a cuppa and a chat with others in the same position. Believe me this can be all the break you need some days! In addition to this we can provide a ‘sitting’ service, whereby one of our supporters will stay at home with the person living with dementia, whilst the carer can go and do the shopping, get their hair done, go for a drink with friends, or just go and sit quietly on the beach maybe to have some peace and tranquillity to recharge. Just knowing there is someone they can contact is a support network that is really needed here.
We can assist with trans-lators. We have a few translators on board with us who are very experienced in medical matters, especially dementia. Having consistency with dementia is so important as you have to be able to understand the person living with the dementia -v- what the carer is saying, the two do not always agree! They also have to be very aware of the need for input from the group for support for the carer as this is one of the hardest diseases to care for as you see the person you are caring for disappearing day by day.

So what is dementia?
Well it is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disor-ders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

Can dementia be cured?

Frustratingly, medical science has so far been unable to find a cure for dementia. The truth is that there is unlikely to be a single ‘one pill cures all’ to treat the condition because the brain damage of dementia is caused by many different diseases. However, research is continuing aimed at reducing risk factors, slowing down the decline and improving function and quality of life. Once diagnosed, this does not mean that the person with the dementia can’t live a full and happy life within their abilities, which is what we aim to assist with. There are certain ‘dementias’ where the damage is done by a specific action, such as Korsakoff’s, where reduction in alcohol intake will reduce the continuation of brain damage and some which can be due to infections therefore treated with antibiotics, but ‘true’ dementias are incurable.

Will you be contributing to research?

No. All funds raised will be directed at supporting those living with dementia in Tenerife and their carers.
So how can the community get behind you with this?
We need funds to provide these services because although no members of the support team will financially benefit from the group and the roles of the associacion are done so voluntarily, there are costs involved for equipment etc., and of course the Associacion application will cost.

So how are you going to raise the funds needed?

We are hoping that the community will dig deep to assist us in raising enough funds to start the therapy sessions, provide much needed support and also to go towards us getting Associacion status. We know it is a big ask and there are many fantastic organisations already here in Tenerife that do amazing work for a variety of causes, but we are hoping that we can share some of the support the great community and tourists of Tenerife show to these too.

Will the group be available to locals or is it just for the ex-pat community?

So far the contact has been within the ex-pat community, however we are hoping that in time the locals will also benefit. It is an ongoing project which we hope will expand and embrace the whole community who are in need and can improve their quality of life by being involved.

How to contact the group

The group have a face book group and page and through this private me-ssages can be sent to ask for assistance.

We also have set up a private group called Dementia Help Me Tenerife which is where those caring for others can rant, speak freely about their feelings etc anytime night or day and we can give support this way too.

There are contact numbers on the page for those who would prefer to speak to someone rather than online.

Anyone needing support can contact me direct on 643274042.

By Sharon Edens