How to support someone diagnosed with dementia

Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago. Here, she shares five ways you can support people with dementia

Wendy Mitchell in her kitchen

Whether you know someone who has been living with dementia for years, someone recently diagnosed or you just want to be better equipped in your day to day life, there are simple things we can all do to help improve the lives for people living with the condition.

This week marks Dementia Action Week, previously known as Dementia Awareness Week, where Alzheimer’s Society are calling on everyone to unite and take actions, big or small, to make a huge difference to people affected by dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Wendy Mitchell, 62, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago. To mark the week, Wendy gives her top tips on how best to support someone living with dementia.

Wendy Mitchell's 5 tips for supporting somebody with dementia

1) Don’t automatically do things for me

If a person with dementia is struggling to do something, naturally a lot of people jump to just doing it for them, which can be really frustrating. For the kindest of reasons and wherever possible, please help me to do something myself or try to find a new way.

2) Don’t think of diagnosis of dementia as the end

Life with dementia will always be different but that doesn’t mean it will all be bad. It can still be filled with laughter and adventures, it is more just about adapting. Keeping a positive attitude is really important.

3) Remember I still have talents

For me, I’m living with dementia not ‘suffering’. Every person diagnosed will have had interests and talents beforehand and these aren’t just lost overnight. Whether they loved writing, drawing or sports, encourage them to keep this up in someway.

4) Take each day as it comes

Naturally, when someone you know has dementia, it can make you worry about the future. It is really important though to not dwell on this too much and focus more on each day as it comes. There will be bad days but tomorrow may be better.

5) Remember, I’m still a person with feelings

Often, if someone has dementia , people can start to exclude them from a conversation or where they are included questions or remarks can sometimes be insensitive. After a diagnosis, we still like to be included in and contribute to conversations and treated with respect.

National Dementia Helpline

Looking for information, support or advice about dementia? Call our helpline on 0300 222 11 22.

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11 comments

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Thankyou this is very helpful

Very helpful. Thank you

My Sister has been diagnosed with early on set Alzheimer's at the age of 60 years l am anxious to find out how to cope with it please !!

Hi Agnes - sorry to hear about your sister's diagnosis, but please know we are here for you both.

You might want to call our helpline to get tailored advice and learn about the different types of support available: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20012/helpline

If you’re based in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you could also use our service finder to find support in your local area: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/find-support-near-you

Some people affected by dementia find it helpful to talk with others in similar situations in on our online community, Talking Point. You can read their experiences, share your own or ask a question here: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/

Finally, we’ve got lots of advice and information available on our website. Here's an article that you may find helpful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/help-dementia-care/understand…

If you have a specific question or need, let us know and we can try and point you in the right direction.

Hope this is useful,

^Kyle

My husband has early onset.ftd.since 2009. It is now a way of life..we cope. Where do you live. I am very much in touch with young dementia uk. Check it out. They have videos of people on their.

My angel, my wife has a memory problem and to compound the problem, she has a hearing problem. Hearing loss is a great isolator and people often talk directly to me as soon as they realise this. Even with hearing aids my wife struggles to communicate effectively. I can normally pick up when my wife is having difficulty following the conversation and will repeat the statement being discussed.
I read your messages with interest but would make two simple requests of you. Firstly, can you include some items where a person living with memory issues has other problems and secondly, I would love to see a regular feature on research into cures and the progress being made.
Many thanks and keep up the excellent work

Hi Raymond,

Thanks for your comment and feedback, it's really useful to hear.

There's some information on our website related to people with memory issues as well as sight and hearing loss. You might find this page helpful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/symptoms-and-diagnosis/sig…

Having said that we're really keen to have more advice, information and stories to support people in your situation. If you'd like to share your own story it could be helpful for others, but obviously not to worry if you'd rather not! Here's some information on how to submit a story if that interests you: https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/your-story/

Finally, for updates on research you can view our latest research blogs here: https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/category/research/

There's also the research section on our main website where you can read about current research projects, learn how you can take part in research, or subscribe to our free research magazine, Care and Cure. You can see all of that here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/research

Thanks again, and hope this is useful,

^Kyle

I’m having difficulty trying to work my way around talking point. I called the Alzheimer’s number but it was engaged, I didn’t leave a message as I don’t want to tell my husband yet. I was told yesterday by my GP that I am borderline, I’m now awaiting blood tests and a scan. I am struggling with everything I’m trying to do like cooking meals, housework etc. I work from home part time in my husbands business but only when I’m up to it. My husband hasn’t suspected Alzheimer’s as I’m in a lot of back pain so he thinks my symptoms are due to that. My head seems in a constant fog, no motivation and finding it more difficult to mix with others. I forget names of people I know but not family and forget words and recent conversations. I find myself just sitting on the couch for hours, in the past I have always been so busy and never sat down I’m 63 and desperately scared of the future.

Sorry to hear you are feeling this way, Susan.

It sounds as though you've been having a difficult time and it is not surprising you are feeling the way you do.

What you are experiencing may be a mixture of shock and fear for the future.
At the helpline we are in contact with people experiencing memory problems and through all stages of dementia. Although it can be a challenging disease it is possible, with the right support, to live well with dementia.

I would encourage you to try calling the helpline again (0300 222 1122) so we can explore the situation more fully.

Kind regards,
The helpline team

My story of dementia started in 2013, when I noticed changes in my sisters speech and concentration. Over the coming months her state of mind rapidly changed. Going from paranoia to delusional, unable to recognise money. Her mobility declined, stumbling and falling over. All these things happened with no diagnosis from the GP. Even though she had been tested. The changes in her were rapid. My sister passed away in 2015 aged 60. Final diagnosis was corticobasel degeneration.
But now my mum bless her aged 93 has althzimers, cared for in a dementia care home. Life is a cruel thing .

Really helpful
Advice and I have just finished Wendy’s book which is fabulous thank you for sharing your amazing journey giving me positive encouragement for my mum whom has recently been diagnosed x

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