The dementia guide: Introduction

Man and woman walking

This guide will help you to understand more about dementia and the treatments, support and services that are available. It includes information about living as well as possible with dementia and about making plans for the future.

You might choose to read the whole guide, or, if you prefer, focus on the parts that seem most relevant to you. You can also read a summary of each section. These have been included for people who may prefer to read an overview of the section rather than the whole guide.

There is a checklist that identifies the useful things discussed throughout this guide that you can do to help you live well now and plan for the future.

A diagnosis of dementia can cause a range of emotions. The news might come as a shock, or, for some people, it may bring a sense of relief as it provides an explanation for the problems they have been experiencing. It can also have a big impact on family and friends.

If you, or someone close to you, have recently been diagnosed with dementia, you might be feeling sad, fearful, lost, alone, angry or even disbelief. Everyone is different, but all these reactions are possible at different times and they are all normal. How you feel will probably vary from one day to the next.

'We went out and celebrated when I was diagnosed, because I finally knew what was wrong with me. I could tell people "I have Pick's disease".'

Graham, East Sussex, living with Pick's disease (frontotemporal dementia).

'Even though we expected it, our first reaction was to be frightened and upset. I think [my husband] thought it diminished him as a person and felt ashamed. But time has changed that, because it hasn't diminished him in any way.'   

Brenda, West Sussex, carer for a person with Alzheimer's disease.

If you can, talk to friends and family about how you're feeling. Other people need to understand what you're going through. They might be finding things hard too, so talking can help both you and them. There are also specialist health and social care professionals you can talk to for support.

You may find these Alzheimer's Society services and other useful organisations helpful for further information and support.

If you'd like to talk about the information in this guide, please phone Alzheimer's Society's National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 - calls are charged at a low-cost rate. The Helpline is for anyone affected by dementia and is open 9am-8pm Monday-Wednesday, 9am-5pm Thursdays and Fridays and 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Trained helpline advisers can provide you with information, support, guidance and signposting to other appropriate organisations.

Throughout this guide you will see suggestions for Alzheimer's Society factsheets. You can order these by phone on 0300 303 5933 or email orders@alzheimers.org.uk For factsheets specific to Northern Ireland, please contact your local Alzheimer's Society office.

It's important to know that you aren't alone - about 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. It's possible to live well with dementia and there is support available for you and your family.

This guide has been produced by Alzheimer's Society with support and funding from the Department of Health.

Thank you to Lloyds Banking Group for supporting The dementia guide in 2014 and 2015.

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