How to help

Everyone with dementia will have different needs, abilities and preferences but there are some useful general tips for anyone supporting someone with dementia:

  • Focus on what the person with dementia can do, rather than what they cannot
  • Allow more time for the brain to process information
  • Keep things normal as far as possible - if the person with dementia has always taken the lead in an area of life, continue to include them in decision-making in that area for as long as possible
  • Don't test a failing memory, or do anything that might make someone feel stupid eg, for forgetting something or being unable to do something they would normally do easily
  • Encourage the person with dementia to keep up with hobbies and interests they have enjoyed in the past
  • Find meaningful activities that are enjoyable and allow the person to gain a sense of achievement.

If you are a friend or more distant family member the best thing you can do is keep in touch. Friends and family affected by dementia need your support more than ever, even if you do not live nearby. Ask how you can help. 

'Feelings are more important than facts'

Remember that feelings are more important than facts. Resist the temptation to correct someone who is obviously living in a different reality. Instead:

  • Be friendly and a good listener
  • Body language can be as important as words. A smile, eye contact , and often touch, is the key to effective communication
  • Use simple words and short sentences, and stick to one topic at a time
  • Avoid asking questions that test memory. Stick to the here and now, or if there is time for a longer conversation, ask about a person's early life. 
  • Finding out as much as you can about a person's past life can give you ideas for good conversation starters - it may be easier for people to talk about times in their life from long ago. 

There are many websites with ideas for activities which people with dementia may enjoy. See our links pages for details

If you are the main family carer please see our For Carers pages for additional support.