Supporting Someone With Dementia

Dementia NI

A diagnosis of dementia can be overwhelming for both the individual and their family and friends.

How you can help and support someone with dementia

When someone you care for has been diagnosed with dementia there are many ways you can help and support them through the changes they will face. These range from the very practical to just being there for them, offering understanding and care.

While symptoms of dementia often mask the person you once remember, it is easy to forget that the person with the diagnosis is still your friend or relative. People with dementia often still have the same feelings, values and beliefs they always had.

Maintaining their health and nutrition;

  • People with dementia’s eating habits may change over time, however it is important to encourage them to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Helping the individual with eating and drinking, changing behaviour at mealtimes and issues with swallowing;
  • It is important to ensure a person with dementia keeps hydrated as they may not remember to do so themselves;
  • Be patient, try to understand why a person may have changes in their behaviour, including stress and distress, and respond appropriately;
  • Helping the person to modify their home and habits can make things easier for them, ensure that changes are subtle as familiarity is important and drastic changes can cause disorientation and more confusion;

Ensure that the individual keeps active, maintains their social contacts and interests;

  • Help the person to deal with their memory loss through reassurance. Stay calm and support the person in discovering ways to make it easier for them to maintain their independence;
  • Use prompts to assist the individual with their medication, and medical visits;
  • Attend appointments with the individual to help them to communicate their symptoms and feelings to their physicians;
  • Work with the individual to identify and use appropriate technology to make their life easier.

Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the main symptoms of dementia, and one which can be very distressing for both the individual and their carers. There are many ways in which this shows itself, and a number of ways that you can help:

  • Use phrases which encourage and enable, and avoid phrases which are negative;
  • Use direct questions;
  • Be kind and understanding in your verbal expression;
  • Give time to think and respond, using simple language and offering choices;
  • Encourage them to join in, and never patronize;
  • Rely more on non-verbal communication – body language, physical contact, tone of voice and other non-verbal cues can make up over 90% of communication;
  • Listen to them, help them to make their thoughts clear to you.

There are many ways to help a person with dementia, and many treatments available. Do what you can to help them maintain their independence and respect the person’s ability to make their own decisions. Do your research to help yourself ensure your loved one will live well with dementia.

Useful resources

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