The emotional impact of living with memory loss

Memory loss can lead to many practical difficulties for a person. It can also have a strong effect on how they and those supporting them feel.

Everyone will react differently to their memory problems, but many people become frustrated or worried by them. They may lose self-confidence and be embarrassed by their difficulties.

Memory problems can also lead to a person withdrawing from situations or stopping doing things they usually do. They may accuse others of having moved or stolen items they have misplaced. It is important to be aware of these difficulties and find ways to provide support.

How to emotionally support someone living with memory loss:

The following suggestions might help.

  • Encourage the person to talk about how they are feeling.
  • Support the person with any frustration they may be feeling, for example by talking through issues and looking for ways to manage them.
  • Support the person to cope with the difficulties they face on a day-to-day basis, rather than focusing on what may happen in the future.
  • Support the person to focus on what they can still do, and encourage them to continue doing these things.
  • Encourage the person to continue spending time with other people, and to take part in meaningful activities as much as possible.
  • At times, it may be best to change the conversation or activity to try and remove any frustration the person may be feeling. Do this sensitively – it is important not to undermine the person or dismiss their feelings.

There may be concerns that the person’s memory loss will put them at risk. Using assistive technology products (such as a gas detector) can help to reduce the risk. If the person is able to make decisions, it is important that they are supported to do so. Very often, it is a case of balancing the risks against the benefits, and using this to find a suitable solution.

Making decisions for someone with dementia

Read more about assisting somebody with dementia to make decisions and when it's appropriate.

Making decisions

Those supporting the person with dementia are likely to feel a range of emotions due to the person’s memory loss. Remembering that the person’s difficulties are because of their dementia may help you to deal with these feelings.

Carers: looking after yourself

Find out more about accessing support and looking after yourself when caring for somebody else.

Support for carers
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