Living alone as a person with dementia

Building a good support network and staying involved in the community can be very helpful for people with dementia who live alone.

How can I stay involved as a person with dementia who lives alone?

Some people with dementia choose to live alone. You may feel happier and more in control in your own home, where you can keep your routines and stay in your community. Keeping your independence may also be important to you.

Some people live alone because of their circumstances. You may find yourself alone after a partner has died, or someone you lived with has moved out. You may not have a partner, family or friends you can move in with. Everyone’s situation will be different.

Staying well and healthy will help you when you’re living on your own. This includes both physical and mental health. Keeping active, seeing people and staying in touch can all help with your wellbeing and prevent you from feeling isolated.

Build a good support network

Having people around you to support you can be helpful. They might offer help with practical things you find difficult, look out for your wellbeing, or just be there to talk and spend time with you.

Who can be part of my support network?

Having a good support network in place can really help. This can include:

  • family
  • friends
  • neighbours
  • professionals.

What if I don't feel comfortable asking for help?

Asking for and accepting help can be difficult. You may feel that it will stop you being independent. However, having people around who can help you if you need it will mean you can stay living alone for longer.

You may have lots of people who are there for you. But if you haven’t, it can be a good idea to put support in place as soon as you feel ready. You might not need much help right now, but talking to people about your diagnosis as soon as you feel ready can be reassuring. That way you will know there is help and support on hand when you do need it.

Tips for building a good support network when you live alone

The following tips can help you put a support network in place:

Tell your loved ones how they can support you

Tell people how they can help you and what would be best for you. You can focus on what you can still do, and they can help with some of the things you find more difficult. This could include things like:

  • reminding you to take your medication
  • managing the garden
  • shopping for food.

Keep in touch with your local community

If you don’t have family or friends who can help you, you may want to speak to other people in your community. They may be able to help with things like lifts into town, shopping, gardening or simply calling in or phoning to see how you are. These people could be:

  • neighbours
  • shopkeepers
  • people from a place of worship
  • your pharmacist
  • your landlord.

Consider telling others about your diagnosis

Consider telling people about your diagnosis, so they can offer you support if you need it. When people understand, they will be able to offer you help and make sure it is tailored to your needs.

If you don’t feel comfortable telling people about your diagnosis, you could just say that you need a bit of help with some things from time to time.

Look for local support

Find out what support is available where you live. This could be from social services, a homecare agency or a local charity (such as Age UK). This support can include help with:

  • meals
  • cleaning
  • household jobs 
  • gardening
  • transport.
Find local support

Use our dementia directory tool to find support near you.

Find out more

Stay connected to the people around you

Getting out of the house and seeing other people, continuing to enjoy your hobbies, or just keeping in touch with friends and family are all important. You shouldn’t feel cut off from other people just because you live alone.

What if it's hard for me to stay in touch with people?

Having dementia can make it harder to do things, and this can mean that you see people less than you used to. If you live in a rural area, it can be harder to get to the nearest shop or visit people. Or you might live in a city where there is better transport but less sense of community. However, there are still things you can do to stop yourself feeling isolated.

Tips for staying in touch with people when you live alone

The following tips may help you stay in touch with the people around you:

Talk to other people regularly

  • You could arrange regular phone calls or visits with friends and family members.
  • If you don’t always want to be the person to make the first contact, you could tell people that this is how you feel and ask them to call or drop in every so often.
  • Try to get out regularly, for example going to the local shop to buy a paper each day. This can give you a chance to talk to someone and to feel more involved in the community.
  • You may find that the people around you have different views on what you can and should do. They may think you need more help than you actually do. It’s important to talk honestly to people about what they can do to help and what you can manage by yourself. Work together to come up with ways you can get the support you need. Try not to take it personally if they disagree with you – they’re probably concerned or worried about you and trying to do what they can to help.

Take part in local activities

  • Taking part in a local support or activity group such as Singing for the Brain® is a really good way of staying socially active. You might also meet new people who are in a similar situation. Find groups near you or call Alzheimer’s Society’s support line on 0333 150 3456.
  • See if there are any befriending opportunities in your area. A befriender is someone who comes and spends time with you regularly, either in your home or out in the community. This can allow you to continue your hobbies, take part in activities, or just have some companionship. You could also consider telephone befriending, where someone phones you regularly. The Silver Line offers a telephone befriending service.

Use technology to keep in touch

  • If you have a computer, smart phone or tablet, consider using social media (for example WhatsApp) or a video calling app such as Skype to stay in touch with people. You may prefer a video call to a phone call because you can see the person you’re talking to.
  • Not everyone is comfortable using technology or the internet. If you would find it useful but are not sure where to start, computer training may be available in your area. Contact your local Age UK for more information.
  • If you don’t have any family members or friends, or if you are no longer in touch, there are still ways of getting emotional support. Online communities or forums are a great way of meeting and talking with other people who have dementia. There will be lots of other people who are in a similar situation. Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point is a good place to start. There are also video conferencing support groups available on Facebook and Zoom that you might want to try.
  • You can also keep in touch by subscribing to Alzheimer’s Society’s magazine, Dementia together, published every two months. 
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