How to help people with dementia

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If you have a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with dementia, then you may notice them begin to struggle with day-to-day activities that they used to be able to manage.

Dementia is a neurological condition that can affect people of all different ages but is most common in the elderly. It is a progressive condition that causes an ongoing decline in brain functioning which can cause a large variety of symptoms including memory loss, communication problems, and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning.

Many people with dementia will require additional care to help keep them safe and comfortable, particularly as the condition progresses.

Seeing a loved one’s health decline due to dementia is upsetting and caring for them may be challenging at times, many friends and family members of those with dementia say they’re not quite sure what they can do to help.

In this article, we will look at what needs those with dementia have, how those needs are likely to change over time, and the best ways to help a person with dementia.

What are the needs of a person with dementia?

There are different types of dementia, and each type can cause different symptoms. The severity of the symptoms experienced will also vary depending on how progressed the condition is.

This means that each person with dementia will have different needs.

Some areas of daily life that those with dementia may need help with include:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Mobility
  • Meal preparation
  • Financial management
  • Medical management
  • Shopping and errands
  • Household chores

It is not just physical activities that people with dementia require help with. The condition can also have a profound psychological impact. Those with dementia may frequently feel confused, scared, or insecure and the condition can also affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence. All these negative emotional effects can result in mental health problems including anxiety and depression.

Those with dementia may need help creating a living environment and daily routine that feels safe and helps them to live as independently as possible to reduce the psychological impact of the condition.

How will their needs change over time?

Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that it causes brain functioning to gradually decline over time.

This means that a person with dementia may develop new symptoms as the condition progresses or find that the severity of their symptoms worsens.

The level of help, support, and care that a person with dementia requires may need to be adapted or increased over time to meet their changing needs.

Helping and supporting a person with dementia

If you have a family member or friend with dementia, the first thing you should do is educate yourself in the condition to ensure that you have a good understanding of the signs and symptoms of dementia and what the person is going through.

A person’s experience of having dementia is not just shaped by the symptoms they experience; the environment they live in, relationships they have, and the support they receive also plays a big part.

Once you have a good understanding of the condition you should focus on creating a supportive, safe, and comfortable environment and lifestyle for your loved one with dementia.

Some ways to help a person with dementia include:

Facilitate their interests

Focus on what they can do, rather than what they can’t. Help them to find time for and carry out activities and pastimes that they enjoy, offering plenty of encouragement and praise.

Listen to them

Be a good friend by listening to what they have to say, providing reassurance when needed, always treating them with respect and dignity, and avoiding harsh criticism.

Ensure they have the care they require

Make sure they have an appropriate level of care so that they can live comfortably and maintain a good quality of life. This may mean caring for them yourself or organising an appropriate care service to help out.

Help them retain as much independence as possible

People with dementia may feel discouraged by how little they can do for themselves. Wherever possible, particularly during the early stages of dementia, make changes to their environment to help them retain their independence. This could include creating a weekly timetable, labelling cupboards and doors, and putting up notes to remind them of routine tasks like putting the bins out or locking the door at night.

Dementia care options

The level of care that someone with dementia requires will depend on their symptoms and how far the condition has progressed.

Often, they can be cared for at home by a friend or family member during the early stages of dementia, but as the condition progresses and their needs increase, they may require extra help from a professional care service.

Professional care options available for those with dementia include:

  • Home care services
  • Adult day centres
  • Care homes
  • Respite care

To decide which is the most appropriate care option, you should first assess the needs of the person with dementia. Wherever possible, they should also be involved in the decision-making process.

The level of care required usually depends on how far the condition has progressed. People with middle and late-stage dementia usually require more intensive or round the clock care which can be difficult to provide at home without the help of a professional care service.

CBAT Dementia Awareness Training

Here at Care Business Associate Training, we provide a 3-hour online Dementia Awareness training course suitable for either healthcare professionals or individuals who have a friend or relative with dementia and want to find out more about how best to support them.

Key areas that the course covers include:

  • What is dementia and what causes it?
  • The different types of dementia.
  • Other conditions with similar symptoms.
  • Symptoms of dementia.
  • How to support and care for someone with dementia.

Completing this course will give you a better understanding of the condition and its symptoms and how a person with dementia experiences the world. It can also equip you with useful strategies for communicating and caring for a person with dementia to improve their comfort and wellbeing.

Book your place on our Dementia Awareness course today.

Or, if you’d like to find out more about our dementia awareness training first, give our team a call on 01772 816 922 or email