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Advice and support for carers of someone with memory loss or dementia

If you are caring for a person with dementia, you may sometimes find their behaviour confusing, irritating or difficult to deal with.

Advice and support

In addition to the below, the IDEAL Programme has a leaflet for family members or friends supporting a person with dementia with five key messages about how to support someone with dementia during the coronavirus epidemic.

Oakley Friends run a free training course for people who care for someone with dementia.

The Alzheimer's Society has advice on how you can support someone who has dementia to communicate.

Contact their GP for support and advice if their behaviour worries you or causes distress.

Hints and tips

You might find the following tips useful:

  • focus on what they can do rather than on what they cannot or will not - for example, lay clothes out for them to dress themselves as far as possible
  • make sure they have meaningful things to do, from everyday chores to activities and do things together if you can
  • make eye contact and try to listen carefully even when you are busy
  • give them your full attention and think about any distractions such as noise that may affect them
  • think about how you use gestures, facial expressions and touch - physical contact can give a lot of reassurance
  • speak clearly and if you are not being understood use simple words or explain things differently
  • stick to one topic at a time and make sure questions are simple
  • too many choices can make a decision difficult, for example only give two choices when choosing what to eat
  • when other people are around, include the person you care for in conversations

You may find the Alzheimer's Society's regular Dementia Together magazine useful as it features updates and real-life stories.

Changes in behaviour

Alzheimer's Society has information about how to deal with changes in behaviour. This includes restlessness, repetitive behaviour, shouting, walking about and sleep disturbance.

As a carer, you may well find changes in the person's behaviour difficult to cope with. This might include them repeating themselves, following you, pacing and shouting out. Keep in mind that they are not doing these things deliberately, and try not to take it personally. They may be in pain or trying to tell you something, for example that they are bored or frustrated.

Contact their GP for support and advice if their behaviour worries you or causes distress.

Activities to help

Over time, many people with dementia, and their families, withdraw from social and leisure activities. This increases the sense of isolation that often occurs.

Fortunately, there are a large number of groups and organisations who provide social activities for people with memory loss and dementia and their carers.

dementia activity recipe card resource pack is available from reminiscence arts charity Age Exchange to provide carers and care staff with a range of activities. The packs are available to purchase from the Age Exchange online shop.

Helping people with dementia to return safely to their home

Home Safely is a scheme for carers of people with dementia which makes it easier for a person with dementia who is lost and confused in a public place to be taken home.  Often their confusion means they cannot remember their address, or even their name. This can make it difficult for the emergency services to get them home and can be very distressing.

Under the Home Safely scheme, the person with dementia wears a bracelet which gives an ID number unique to them and the scheme telephone number.  The bracelet looks like a watch strap and can be adjusted to fit the wearer, and is not easily removed by the wearer. The emergency services can contact the scheme, which connects to the local community alarm service, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When given the person's ID number, the operator can identify and call the carer.  The carer can then collect the person they support, or the person can be taken home.  The information is shared only with the emergency services and is not shared with other agencies or the public.

If you are interested in this service, please contact your local community alarm service according to where the person you care for lives: