Practical ways to support a person living with dementia
The term ‘dementia’ is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. Symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
This guide has been produced in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia support and research charity. They provide support and advice to people affected by all forms of dementia.
We hope that older people, their carers and families, find it useful. Print this page to give to someone you know or use the share button on the right of this page.
Ten practical ways to help people with dementia
- Treat the person with respect and dignity
People with dementia often feel very vulnerable so it is important to help them feel confident and valued. Encourage them to achieve small things for themselves.
- Be a good listener
It can really help to talk things through – even if this is just a short weekly phone call.
- Be a good communicator
Speak calmly and wait for signs that the person has understood what you have said. Look the person in the eye and use physical contact to offer reassurance.
- Remember that the little things can mean a lot
Dropping in for a cup of tea or helping to organise a photo album can help to show a person living with dementia that you care.
- Stay in touch
Hearing from someone briefly and frequently is better than receiving a long letter twice a year. Try to keep in touch as the person’s dementia progresses over time.
- Offer practical help
Two thirds of people with dementia live at home. Offering practical support with things like cutting the grass, putting the rubbish out or running an errand will make a big difference.
- Organise a treat
Think about what the person liked to do before their illness and try to adapt an activity to their current situation. You could go for a picnic in the park or watch an old film.
- Help different family members in different ways
Some family members may dedicate a lot of time to caring responsibilities so offering them support is important too.
- Find out more about dementia
The more you know about dementia, the more confident you will feel spending time with the person with dementia and their loved ones. Visit alzheimers.org.uk or call the Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22 (Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm). The National Dementia Helpline provides information, advice, and support through listening, guidance and appropriate signposting to anyone affected by dementia.
- Talk to Royal Voluntary Service about services in your area
Whether reducing isolation through a regular visit from a local Royal Voluntary Service volunteer or practical help like providing a lift to the doctor or meeting up with friends, the help Royal Voluntary Service offers is tailor made to what the older person needs. Get in touch to see how we can help you or someone you care about or search for services by postcode on this website.
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Please exercise your common sense when considering this guide and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in it. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that any factual information is accurate and complete, most of the information in this guide is based on our views and opinions (and sometimes the views and opinions of the people or organisations we work with). As a result, we cannot make any promises about the accuracy or the completeness of the information and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on it.