A person with dementia being supported on the street

Tackling loneliness in people living with dementia

We discuss Government’s loneliness strategy and how Alzheimer’s Society supports people affected by dementia at risk of social isolation, including carers.

Many of us will feel lonely occasionally. Being alone every once in a while can be beneficial. It may provide an opportunity for self-reflection and awareness. However, research suggests that social isolation and loneliness can be harmful. 

Four shocking statistics behind social isolation

  1. Lacking social connections can damage a person’s health as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  2. Loneliness can increase one’s risk of developing certain diseases, such as dementia
  3. Social isolation and loneliness presents one of the biggest health and social care challenges of the 21st century, increasing one’s risk of dying by 29 per cent.
  4. Half a million of older people do not see or speak to anyone for more than six days a week.

How loneliness affects people with dementia

People affected by dementia have a higher risk of being socially isolated and lonely than other social groups. This issue is therefore of great importance, especially to Alzheimer’s Society.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

Over a third (35 per cent) of people with dementia that we spoke to as part of our Turning Up the Volume report said they have felt lonely recently.

A third of people with dementia said they had lost friends following a diagnosis. The reasons for this were manifold.

Some people reported that their friends moved to new neighbourhoods, sheltered accommodation or a care home as they were getting older and required more assistance. But the stigma around dementia also resulted in people affected by condition to become more isolated.

Research from Alzheimer’s Society suggests that some people living with dementia have poor experiences when coming into contact with people outside their immediate social circle. This can make them want to withdraw from society.

A very good friend of mine is afraid to come and see me. I have contacted him, but he hasn’t got back to me. A couple of people are a bit wary of me, because I’ve got Alzheimer’s and they are afraid of what it might be.
- Person living with dementia

Feeling lonely as a carer

Carers of people with dementia also experience social isolation and loneliness.

Currently three in five family carers say caring for someone with dementia has impacted their own health.

63 per cent of carers say they have had no or not enough support.

More than half of all carers who support someone with dementia for 20 hours or more a week said they felt lonely recently.

How the Government aims to help fight loneliness

Theresa May described loneliness as a sad reality of modern life. The Prime Minister offered propositions to tackle this issue head-on.

The UK is the first and only country in the world to have appointed a Minister for Loneliness, Tracey Crouch and to develop a loneliness strategy.

The Government ran a consultation for the loneliness strategy to understand what works in fighting this issue. It will invest £20 million in initiatives that aim to increase social connections and the quality of these relationships.

We therefore welcome the Government’s initiative to launch a loneliness strategy.  Here we highlight a service that tackles loneliness and social isolation among people affected by dementia.

Side by Side is taking on loneliness

Alzheimer’s Society provides a peer-support service called Side by Side. It supports people living with dementia who are at risk of social isolation and loneliness.

It can help to encourage people with dementia retain or re-engage in their favourite activities and try even new ones. They may seek a companion to get out of the house by going to the library or taking a walk in the park, for example.

Carers also benefit from this service by gaining some free time. People affected by dementia, such as primary carers, have made new connections. They have also become more engaged in community activities.

The research evidence is clear that preventing reducing loneliness is vital to enabling people affected by dementia to live longer and more happily. We hope you can help us to achieve this.

Become a Side by Side volunteer

We are looking for more volunteers to buddy up with people with dementia. By sharing an activity that you enjoy, you can make a big difference.

Find out more
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My mother is paranoid that my husband and myself are stealing from her. Also going in the house when she is out, to go through her stuff. She has phoned the police once. We are still awaiting a full diagnosis but she is going downhill very quickly (aged 91). Should we just ignore, agree or disagree with her accusations. The doctor is aware of these accusations which are daily (sometimes hourly)

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Hi Lindy, I'm very sorry to hear about this situation. . If you call our helpline one of our advisers would be glad to discuss it with you and offer advice.

Our Helpline is open Monday to Wednesday (9am-8pm), Thursday to Friday (9am–5pm) and Saturday to Sunday (10am-4pm), and can be reached on 0300 222 11 22.


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Our Mother was the same. Paranoid Dementia. Amysulphide tablets have changed her dramatically. She is no longer accusing us of stealing and is much easier to visit now.

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I have tried to encourage my mother in law to get out but she will not leave the house. She is aware that there is something wrong and gets angry with herself for not engaging in things that she used to love. She is so depressed and would even prefer to sit alone than join us for christmas lunch. My father in law is finding this all very difficult. What would you suggest we could do?

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Hi Sheila, thank you for your comment.

People who have dementia do sometimes retreat into the routines they know as this can be a source of comfort in an increasingly confusing world.

And trying to persuade them to do something different can feel like frightening pressure.

Sometimes it may be better to ‘just make things happen’ without too much discussion, as people often enjoy an outing once they are there, but can no longer visualise the pleasures they might get from the experience.

Please feel free to contact us again or call our Helpline if you need any further information or support. Our Helpline is open Monday to Wednesday (9am-8pm), Thursday to Friday (9am–5pm) and Saturday to Sunday (10am-4pm), and can be reached on 0300 222 11 22.

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I have dementia. I’m only 54 years old. My grand father also had dementia. Yes I am isolated and it hurts. Apparently most people are “busy”. I can not drive a car and don’t have much help. The Doctors are not very nice.

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I would like to know if you have any leaflets or booklets about dementia.

My mom is living with dementia and as gone down in the past 12months.

Would like to know more about it.

And my father in law as the same.
Could you send me any material to have on it please.

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Hi Anne,

We have lots of booklets and leaflets about dementia available to order for free from our website.

Here is a list of our key publications, which is a good place to start:

Or, if you're looking for something more specific, our full list of publications is available here:

You may also be interested in subscribing to our magazine. It's produced six times a year and you can either sign-up for free or for a small donation:

Hope this is useful. If you need any more information don't hesitate to get in touch!


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