“Words for a Journey: The Art of being with Dementia” is already being used by doctors in Japan. The guide outlines how dementia sufferers relate to the world and how others can relate to them.
Experts believe the guide will give those being diagnosed hope that they can continue to live independently for as long as possible, while also encouraging them to see the diagnosis as a journey, rather than “the end”.
Over 300 experiences described by those living with dementia were collected and distilled into 40 of the most common problems sufferers face.
By outlining common experiences and providing the effective solutions, the guide can help people with the disease cope better and give loved ones a clearer understanding of the illness’ impact on the sufferer’s behaviour.
Written by dementia specialists and computer experts, the guide was developed by Keio University and Fujitsu Laboratories in Japan. One suggestion in the guide is designed to help manage memory loss by creating a “self-reflecting room”. The room is to be full of photographs and mementos to remind the sufferer of who and what they love.
The guide also suggests compiling a “self-intro album” containing information about their past and personality. This is thought to help the sufferer with new people; they will have reminders of who they are and be able to introduce themselves without inducing anxiety.
It is also recommended that a favourite place of the sufferer should be designated at the start of the diagnosis. This will act as a familiar sanctuary that the sufferer can return to as the illness progresses. Even simple things, such as ensuring the person has an allocated chore they can do at home daily will help them to feel needed, useful and independent.
One of the authors of the guide, Dr Takashi Iba says how it is a big step forward into an area of dementia that no one had previously been able to help with.
Almost eight million people in Japan are living with dementia, while there are nearly 850,000 sufferers in Britain.
The guide is now also printed in English.