Heart-breaking Christmas for people with dementia revealed as one in three left cut off

Christmas changed forever as a third of people with dementia are unable to visit loved ones and 25% are no longer able to recognise family members.

A new Alzheimer's Society survey reveals that Christmas will never be same for 65% of current carers who say dementia has “robbed” them of a carefree and joyful festive season.

The results from the survey lay bare the devastation caused by dementia, highlighting the emotional and physical impact of the terminal disease on families at Christmas. 

Dementia breaks families apart at Christmas

As well as this, since 2022, one third of people with dementia are cut off and unable to visit loved ones, while one in four (24%) people with dementia are no longer able to take part in any Christmas activities.

Tragically, a quarter no longer recognise family or friends and one in five (21%) are unable to hold a conversation with loved ones. 

Carers at breaking point

The charity also reports that caring for a loved one with dementia at Christmas is taking its toll on carers.

Over a third (38%) saying they felt more emotionally drained, and a quarter (25%) felt more physically exhausted. Worryingly, nearly one in ten (9%) said they were at ‘breaking point’.

Christmas will never be the same

Nicky Moorey, 67, from Somerset, has been married for 35 years to Adrian, 77, who has dementia, said: 'When you see your loved one unable to participate in the festivities like they used to, it generates a feeling of great sadness and loss at a time of year that should be filled of smiles and laughter.

'Adrian has always been the life and soul of Christmas but since he was diagnosed with Lewy Bodies Dementia in 2017, Christmas has lost its sparkle and recently his physical condition has deteriorated rapidly. 

'As a carer you end up doing everything. It’s lonely and isolating, I used to have to feed him and help him open his presents. Now he’s living in a care home, making this our first Christmas without him. 

'Christmas won’t be the same without Adrian at home. Dementia has left a massive hole in our lives which we can never replace, we all miss him and wish he was here around the table with us. 

'Dementia is very overwhelming, but we had support from a wonderful Dementia Adviser from the Alzheimer’s Society called Michael. He helped us come to terms with the situation and provided lots of resources and advice, he made a massive difference to the whole family.'

Ending the devastation caused by dementia

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: 'One in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. Christmas should be joyful but for many of the 900,000 people living with dementia and their families, their Christmases have changed forever.

'Over a quarter of carers we spoke to say the greatest Christmas gift they could receive would be talking to someone who understands. Our Dementia Advisers are just a call or a click away. They can give someone the guidance, advice, and empathy they desperately need. 

'If you’re able to, please help us be there for everyone living with dementia this Christmas whatever the day brings, by donating to our Christmas Appeal.”

Donate this festive season

Meera Syal CBE and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador said: “I know only too well the devastating impact of dementia after my father died due to the condition, and earlier this year I also lost my mother to a rare form of dementia. 
'Our family cared for our parents for over a decade and so understand how emotionally draining and physically exhausting this can be for carers. It’s devastating to know how many other people up and down the UK have reached breaking point.

'I encourage everyone who can this festive season to donate to Alzheimer’s Society’s Christmas Appeal. You will be making a difference to the lives of thousands of people affected by dementia, and that is the greatest gift of all.”