Ramadan and dementia care

If you or the person with dementia you care for observes Ramadan, we have information to support you. Shree Mehta cares for her grandmother, Sharda, who has vascular dementia. Shree shares her advice for other Muslim carers.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered a holy and sacred month as it is the month in which the Qur’an - the central religious text for Muslims - was first revealed.

The dates for Ramadan change each year as Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the moon.

This year, Ramadan will begin in the UK on Saturday 2 April, subject to the sighting of the crescent moon, and will last thirty days.

How is Ramadan observed by Muslims?

During the thirty days of Ramadan, most Muslims will fast from the break of dawn to sunset.

Abstaining from eating, drinking and not indulging in bad habits allows Muslims to focus on prayer and acts of charity while reflecting on their faith with family and friends.

Muslims mark the end of Ramadan with a joyous celebration called Eid ul-Fitr, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. They give thanks for the strength given to them while fasting.

Do all Muslims take part in spiritual fasting during Ramadan?

Most Muslims who have reached puberty are expected to fast during Ramadan, but there are exceptions.

Vulnerable members of the community do not need to fast for Ramadan. People who are ill, elderly, menstruating or pregnant should stay well-nourished and hydrated.

People with dementia are not expected to take part in fasting during Ramadan and may wish to observe the holy month in other ways.

How to have a dementia-friendly Ramadan

For many people with dementia, religious festivals and cultural traditions remain an important part of their lives.

It’s still possible for a person with dementia to be involved in holy events, like Ramadan, in a meaningful way.

If you are a carer for a person with dementia who is Muslim, you can help to recognise and respect the key values of Islam during Ramadan.

Social events during the sacred month of Ramadan

Taking part in social interactions, such as mosque visits or prayer gatherings with family and friends, could be beneficial.

Socialising and keeping active and involved can help the person maintain their social skills, and also their physical and mental wellbeing. It can also help to raise the person’s self-esteem and connect with others.

It is important to know the current guidelines around coronavirus. You may find information from the Muslim Council of Britain around coronavirus useful.

Shree’s story: ‘Reaping the rewards of Ramadan’

Financial consultant and family caregiver, Shree Mehta, shares how she intends to enrich her Ramadan by continuing to care and support her 86-year-old grandmother, Sharda, who has vascular dementia.

Shree smiling with her grandmother

Balancing caregiver and spiritual responsibilities

'For caregivers like myself, Ramadan can be an exceptionally demanding time. We all have that never-ending to-do list — that compilation of all the responsibilities and information it takes to manage our loved ones and keep things humming along.

'And on top of that, wanting to reap the rewards of fasting, prayers and preparing for the breaking of the fast / meals, are not easy tasks to be handled every day.

'However, having balanced six Ramadans as a caregiver to my wonderful grandmother and alongside my demanding job, I wanted to share the four tips and focus points that I have found help me make the most out of the holy month.'

1. Caregiving as a purpose

'Caregiving is an act of worship that is often overlooked, when in fact, there are countless examples in both the Qur’an and Hadiths (sayings) by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that assure the importance of caring.'

2. Practice self care

'Observing a fast can lead to low energy levels and increased tiredness in parallel with the weather. We may feel this impact strongly as carers, especially in an ever-changing environment where our loved one may be facing new dementia challenges each day.'

I think it’s especially important to ensure you make time for yourself to avoid burnout.

'Caregivers should embrace self-care routines and ensure that personal time is allocated daily to enjoy the blessings of the month.'

3. Remain patient

'The month of Ramadan, whilst beautiful, is also a testing time in which we work to attain a level of patience we do not always achieve at other times of the year.'

When hungry and dehydrated, especially whilst managing the needs and wants of our loved ones, it is easy to let our tired emotions get the better of us.

'Responding with kindness and courtesy to our loved ones we care for provides an opportunity for khidma fana’a – selfless service - and offers a way to exercise the Islamic practice of patience.'

4. Be kind to yourself

'We carers do not always have the privilege of preparing and planning for Ramadan as each day brings new challenges, ones that we often cannot plan for.

'So instead of providing tips on how best to plan and overly prepare for the month, I am here to remind you that everything that you do, for others and yourself, is enough.'

Ramadan is the month in which the rewards for good actions have no limits, and the act of caring hugely counts towards this.

'Ramadan is a month of mercy, and you should extend that to everyone you come in contact with during this month, but most importantly to yourself.

'Reduce the urge to overfill your to-do lists and plans with more than you can cope with.

'If you are reading this during the Ramadan period, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, please join me in welcoming Ramadan by saying "Ramadan Mubarak".'

Dementia Connect support line
Our dementia advisers are here for you.
  • tide has produced information on caring for a person with dementia during Ramadan. The BAME Dementia care during Ramadhan leaflets are available to download as PDFs in English, Bangla and Urdu.

10 comments

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Ramadan Mubarak!!! As a caregiver to both my parents and one has dementia this article was a blessing. I'm fasting, working from home, not getting any sleep but I pray Allah accepts my good deeds and continues to bless my family and gives me the mental and physical strength to continue to be a caregiver. Salam Alaikum

Thanks for getting in touch, Yaya. We're glad to hear Shree's perspective was useful to you.

If you're interested in sharing your story about being a caregiver, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact [email protected] or read more information on writing about your experience of dementia for our blog: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/share-your-dementia-story-our-blog

In the meantime, please do call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 if you ever need dementia information, advice or emotional support. More details about the support line, including opening hours, are here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

You might also benefit from joining our online community, Talking Point, where carers and other people affected by dementia can share their experiences and receive peer support. It's free to join, and open day or night: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

This has been truly inspirational and has really touched my heart!
What a wonderful way of managing during this glorious month!
May you reap all the rewards that you deserve!

Shree,thank you for writing this. I am carer for my mother who is 92 and has vascular dementia, spiritual mum is so strong she prays 5 time a day , and has hardly ever missed her fast. I just want add on 3 Stages that’s known as Ashra of Ramadan the first 10 days are
reflects Mercy of Allah (Rehmah)
Second part reflects Forgiveness of Allah (Maghfirah)
Third part reflects Safety from the Hell (Nijat)

The Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: It (Ramadan) is the month, whose beginning is mercy, its middle, forgiveness and its end, emancipation from the fire (of hell).

No doubt, the month of Ramadan is full of blessings, mercy and forgiveness. It’s the best opportunity for all the Muslims to collect more blessings of Allah and pray for their forgiveness and to be saved from .

Thanks for your comment, Farhat. We'd love to hear more about your experiences of caring for your mother.

Please contact [email protected] or read more information on writing about your experience of dementia for our blog: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/share-your-dementia-story-our-blog

In the meantime, please do call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 if you ever need dementia information, advice or emotional support. More details about the support line, including opening hours, are here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

You might also benefit from joining our online community, Talking Point, where carers and other people affected by dementia can share their experiences and receive peer support. It's free to join, and open day or night: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

All of this is oh so true. Having a similar situation I can immediately understand the challenges and elations.

Well done Shree, God give you strength

Hi Omar, thanks for your comment. Would you be interested in telling us more about your own situation for our blog?

Please contact [email protected] or read more information on sharing your story: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/share-your-dementia-story-our-blog

In the meantime, please do call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456 if you ever need dementia information, advice or emotional support. More details about the support line, including opening hours, are here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

You might also benefit from joining our online community, Talking Point, where carers and other people affected by dementia can share their experiences and receive peer support. It's free to join, and open day or night: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/dementia-talking-point-our-on…

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

Wow! Such an insporational and well written article on balancing faith and caring responsibilities during an important month for all Muslims around the world 🤲🏼

👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

💖💖💖

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