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A Guide to Understanding and Supporting Someone with Dementia

Understanding and Supporting Someone with Dementia

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia can be a hugely emotional and challenging time, not only for the individual, but also for their friends and family.

As dementia is so complex and can affect a person in so many different ways, the more information we know, the better equipped we are to support the ones we love.

Gaining an insight into what it is like to live with dementia can help to understand the best methods of caring for someone who is living with the disease.

Has a loved one recently received a diagnosis of dementia, or have they been living with the disease for some time? Our blog contains sensitive information and advice about supporting someone with dementia.

What is Dementia?

Current research shows that more the 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia.

Forgetfulness should not be dismissed as dementia. Memory loss is a normal part of ageing. However, dementia is the gradual loss of cognitive functionality,

The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. Undergoing tests to receive a diagnosis from either a memory clinic or GPs can determine which form of dementia someone is living with.

Effects of Dementia

Those caring for someone with dementia will understand that it has many effects. For those who are unaware, most people will experience memory difficulties and problems with thinking, which in turn lead to the loss of:

  • Self-esteem
  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Social relationships
  • Ability to perform everyday activities

Five Ways of Supporting Someone with Dementia

  • Focus on what the person can still do, rather than what they can’t.
  • Try and have patience by listening and supporting the person.
  • Complete small jobs for the person, such as making the bed or cooking a meal – this might seem like nothing but is one less thing for them to worry about.
  • Make time for those caring for someone with dementia – it is a challenging time for carers too.
  • Try and understand as much as possible about dementia, as the more you know the will help to support your loved one

Practical Tips When Caring for Someone with Dementia

Although understanding dementia and the effects it can have can help us to appreciate the difficulties a person is experiencing, there are practical ways in which we can help that person too. Some of the following may be helpful on a day-to-day basis for someone in the earlier stages of dementia.  By working together with your loved one you can help them feel supported, rather than feel as though you are ‘taking over’ or making them feel silly:

  • Keep important things like money, glasses, and keys in the same place.
  • Place important numbers by the phone, where they can be seen easily.
  • Identify people in photographs around the house as a reminder.
  • Use an automatic calendar, which can be help keep track of date and time.
  • Help your loved one write reminders about locking doors, turning electric or gas off, and putting the rubbish out.

If you are struggling to know how to provide help for someone with dementia, by helping with some of these tasks, it could vastly improve their daily life.

Support for Dementia Carers

Dementia affects not only the person, but also the person’s surrounding friends and family. As the condition gets worse, more burden and responsibilities can fall to those caring for the individual, which can cause an enormous pressure.

There is, however, support for the carers of people with dementia and it can be critical for both parties’ health and wellbeing that this is accessed. Day services or respite care facilities can give full-time family carers the opportunity to take well-earned rest from the responsibilities of caring for someone with a serious condition, such as dementia.

It can also give the person living with dementia a refreshing change of scenery, while family and friends can be safe in the knowledge that their loved one is in a comfortable, secure environment with qualified care professionals providing excellent levels of care.

Further Support with Understanding Dementia

Want to learn more about dementia care services available near you? Learn more about recognising the early signs of dementia in order to get the correct advice and care required with our helpful blog ‘spotting the early signs of dementia’.

Find care homes near you which offer specialist dementia care services or get in touch today to speak with one of our helpful advisors.