Relationships and dementia

Preparing for changes in a relationship

Dementia can affect relationships in different ways including changes in communication, behaviour, sex and intimacy. 

Our advice can help you understand:

  • how relationships might change after a dementia diagnosis
  • what you can do to help prepare for and live with these changes
  • how to get and give support while in a relationship.

Ways dementia can affect relationships

Dementia affects everyone differently so it's important to communicate in a way that is right for the person. Listen carefully and think about what you're going to say and how you'll say it. 

Communicating and dementia

While the person living with the condition may have difficulties with finding the right word, the words that other people use are important too. We've created a list of the words and questions it may be best to avoid in conversation:

What not to say to somebody with dementia

Some people with dementia may lose self-confidence and be embarrassed by their difficulties. They may begin to withdraw from social situations or stop doing things they usually do.

If you are supporting a person with dementia, you may also feel embarrassed if the person forgets who someone is, or if they no longer remember how to carry out a task. Or you might feel sad that the person has forgotten memories that you share with them.

The emotional impact of living with memory loss

A dementia diagnosis can be difficult to cope with and accept, for both the person with dementia and those close to them. Feelings of loss and grief, including anger or helplessness, are common. Some may be in denial about the diagnosis.

But you’re not alone, Alzheimer’s Society can put you in touch with the right support for you, from professional dementia workers to support groups.

Feelings after a diagnosis and as dementia progresses

As a person’s dementia progresses, they may begin to behave in ways that other people find difficult to understand. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of living with dementia, both for the person with the condition and those around them.

As dementia progresses, you may see more changes in the person’s behaviour and find this difficult to manage. Looking at their causes and identifying the person’s needs can help.

How does dementia change a person's behaviour?

When a person is living with dementia, their sexual behaviour, needs and desires may change. As their partner, yours may too. Your sex life may have changed, and you might need advice on how to cope with this, as well as how to feel better. Talking about sex and intimacy can help. 

How does dementia affect sex and intimacy?

Your relationships - free booklet

This booklet will help you understand how relationships might change after a dementia diagnosis. It also gives information on how to prepare for and live with these changes.

Download Order by post

Married couple Ananga and Jo share what Ananga's Alzheimer's diagnosis has meant for their relationship in the video below.

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