People across the world are living longer and whilst this should be celebrated it also means that some older people will face particular mental health issues as a result of ageing.
We are a multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals who specialise in assessment, diagnosing and treating mental health problems in older age. The team consists of:
- Team Manager
- Mental health nurses
- Occupational therapists
- Approved Social worker
- Support workers
- Administration staff
What do we do?
We receive referrals primarily from GP's and arrange to see people in their own homes or in an out-patient setting at Oberlands. A large proportion of the referrals we see relate to people who have or may have dementia. We provide a range of therapeutic interventions, which includes:
- Mental health assessments
- Memory assessments
- Risk assessments
- Talking therapies
- Diagnostic consultations
- Post-diagnostic sessions
- Pharmacological interventions (medications)
- Lifestyle advice
- Carer support
- Signposting to other agencies
Referral to the OACMHT is usually from your own GP. The team secretary will then guide you to the appropriate team member. Contact 01481 725241 ext 3515.
- Whilst it should be celebrated that people are living longer, it also means that more people will go on to develop dementia. There are about 1,200 people with dementia in Guernsey based on current population figures.
- Dementia is not a single disease; it is an umbrella term used to describe a group of diseases that affect the brain and which cause decline in memory, reasoning, planning and language. It should not be confused as a normal part of ageing. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, the next most common is vascular dementia.
- HSC have published a Dementia Framework Dementia Framework [2Mb] as part of the Disability and Inclusion Strategy outlining 6 areas where there is an opportunity to make positive changes in the years ahead for people with dementia and their families.
- More details can be found about the types of dementia and how they present at www.alzheimers.gg
- Vascular dementia accounts for about 20% of all the dementias we see. This type of dementia occurs as a result of problems with blood supply to the brain; either the supply is blocked or there are tiny bleeds as a result of mini strokes or TIA's.
- Evidence suggests that healthy lifestyles may help reduce the incidence of vascular dementia. Risk factors for vascular dementia are the same as those for strokes. The Alzheimer's Society http://www.alzheimers.org.uk has published guidelines which state "What's good for the heart is good for the head". There are steps we can take now in adulthood to reduce the risks such as:
- Manage blood pressure: Get your blood pressure checked when you visit your GP and follow medical advice to keep it under control.
- Monitor cholesterol: Evidence shows that high cholesterol levels in mid-life can increase your risk of dementia later on. Your GP may be able to give you advice on reducing levels if high.
- Managing obesity: Obesity can increase the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes which can increase the risk of dementia. Eating a healthy diet and reducing excess sugar and saturated fats is recommended.
- Regular exercise: Try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week, with a moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking or cycling. You should be working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.
- Stopping smoking: Smoking has an extremely harmful effect on the heart, lungs and blood vessels, including the blood vessels in the brain. Research shows that smokers have a 50 per cent greater chance of developing dementia than those who have never smoked.
- Avoiding excess alcohol: Drinking more than the recommended levels of alcohol increases the risk of developing various forms of dementia, such as Korsakoff's disease & vascular dementia.
- Mental activity: It is thought that mental activity increases the brain's ability to cope with, and compensate for physical damage. This would mean a person who often takes part in such activities will be able to tolerate a greater level of damage before symptoms of dementia are detected. Taking up new hobbies or learning new skills are great ways to challenge your brain and keep it active. Social activity is also a very good way of keeping the brain active.
- This link to Guernsey's Health Promotion site give more information on healthy living.
What support can I get after a diagnosis of dementia?
- If you have been recently diagnosed with dementia you will be given advice about local support groups run via the voluntary sector and The Committee for Health & Social Care. These groups are also helpful for any family caregiver or friends who support you. A carer support group takes place at the Guernsey Alzheimer's Association, Rue Des Monts, St. Sampson's every Wednesday from 2pm to 3:30pm. The support groups usually have a member of the OACMHT deliver a talk or to ask advice from. More information on joining the groups can be had via the OACMHT secretary 01481 725241 ext 3515.
- The Memory Clinic service is a diagnostic service which aims to help confirm or exclude a diagnosis of dementia. If a diagnosis is made you and your family will be offered some post-diagnostic follow up for up to 4-6 weeks before discharge.
- If you need ongoing support or advice you may be allocated to a member of the OACMHT or a Social Worker. The key worker will be able to advise you on issues around benefits, support networks or about planning ahead for the future. Further information and support can be found via the voluntary agencies below:
- Alzheimer's Society, Guernsey Office Tel: 01481 213367, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Guernsey Alzheimer's Association Tel: 01481 245121, email@example.com; http://www.alzheimers.gg.
- Both the Society and Association provide support, advice, education and social activity for people with dementia and their carers. Activities delivered by both groups include music sessions, lunches, talks from professionals as well as peer support. They can sometimes provide financial help to people in a caring role.
- There are other smaller organisations that should be recognised such as Café & church groups who provide social engagement for people with dementia.
Local dementia support services
- Older Adult Community Mental health Team: (OACMHT)
- The OACMHT is a community team that provides mental health support to islanders primarily aged over 75 yrs although there is a drive to see mental health services become an ageless service. This would mean that people would be seen and assessed based on their need rather than their age. The OACMHT also provide support for people for under the age of 75 where dementia is the primary diagnosis. Referral to the team is usually from your own GP. The team contains professionals from various disciplines including psychiatrists, community mental health nurses, occupational therapists and support workers. The team also has links with social work and psychology. They are supported by a team secretary who can guide you to the appropriate team member. The team can be contacted on 01481 725241 ext 3595.
- The team offers specialist assessment, treatment and advice on mental health issues and specific approaches in dementia care. The focus of the team is to help people to remain safely at home for as long as possible. Supporting carers is an important part of their role. Team members also visit Alderney about every three weeks where they run a clinic in the Mignot Memorial Hospital. Members of the team will help devise a personalised care plan once your needs have been assessed. They offer advice and signposting towards local services. They can also offer advice regarding medications and will liaise closely with your GP. If you need daily help with daily personal care like washing & dressing, the team can liaise with the Community Services team to put this in place.
- The Occupational Therapist can provide you with a specialist functional assessment and offer advice on adaptations that may help you to remain independent within your home and social environment.
- The term Dementia and Alzheimer's are often used interchangeably. There are many causes of Dementia but Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause. Alzheimer's-type Dementia accounts for around 60% of all Dementia cases.
- Particular changes occur within the brain of people with Alzheimer's. These changes impair the ability of the brain to function properly. Over time the brain cells die and the brain size often decreases in size and weight.
- The main risk factor associated with Alzheimer's disease is age. After the age of 65 years the likelihood of developing Dementia roughly doubles every five years. By the age of 80 years the risk of a person having Dementia is about 1 in 5. The likelihood of developing the disease may increase if there is a strong family history of Alzheimer's (e.g. if both parents had the disease, or if many members of one side of the family developed the condition).
Depression in older age
- Everyone feels down now and again. It's part of life. Growing older can bring issues which can make it more difficult to engage in daily life. Mobility problems, eyesight issues or shortness of breath can cause people to become isolated and lonely which can impact significantly on wellbeing.
- Having to stop driving may also lead to a significant loss of independence. There are several social centres in Guernsey for older people who may feel isolated at home and transport can be arranged to attend if required.
- Age Concern Guernsey http://www.ageconcernguernsey.org.gg
- The Russel's Day Centre (Grand Courtil, St. Martin's) & Jubilee Day Centre (Grandes Maisons Rd., St. Sampson's) run via Guernsey Voluntary Service www.gvs.org.gg/
- Unfortunately getting older means we may have to face the loss of a loved one or partner. Bereavement can be a difficult process and one which you may need some help in working through. The Guernsey Bereavement Service http://www.guernseybereavementservice.com may be able to offer some help in this regard.
- Being "down in the dumps" for long periods of time is not a normal part of getting older. If you frequently feel tearful, have lost interest in everyday activities, feel tired all the time, can't sleep, lose interest in food (or start eating too much), feel guilty, feel worthless, have difficulty concentrating or have thoughts about harming yourself you may have clinical depression.
- For many people, depression gets better with treatment. Counselling (talking therapy), anti-depressants or ideally a combination of both can ease the pain of depression. Talk to a GP in the first instance https://gov.gg/doctors who may refer you on to a specialist community nurse who can offer you added support at home if you need it. Speak with a family member or friend who might be able to support you through this.
For further memory information please see our Memory services page.