Caring for someone with dementia

Caring for someone with dementia

Caring for someone with dementia can bring particular challenges. As well as all the changes typical caring can bring (financial, physical etc.) you may be more affected emotionally as the person you love changes, as well as facing different practical issues, including keeping them safe.

Dementia Carers

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and the numbers are set to rise rapidly as our population ages. According to the Alzheimer’s Society unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the economy a staggering £11 billion every year.

Caring for someone who has dementia can be a challenging experience. It is common for carers to feel frustrated and guilty. Many carers feel they’re not doing a good job but it’s really important to remember that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect carer’.

Looking after someone with dementia

As dementia progresses there are some things which can help manage day to day living.

  • If communication becomes challenging you might find simple things like using shorter sentences can help. Some great tips from the NHS here.
  • Keeping your house dementia friendly can also make life easier – and help you worry less. For example, have good lighting and try things like brightly coloured cloths and towels. Useful tips from the NHS here.
  • You also may want to think about ways to keep the person you care for safe. On the Carers UK site, read James’s account of the items that helped when he supported his mother

I let him do anything he can still safely do – get dressed, put the bins out, etc. He can even make scrambled eggs for himself in the morning still. I also get him to go and get a pint of milk at the local shop. All these things keep him feeling independent. Even if he makes his bed and I have to go and make it afterwards, he’s done something, he’s active, and has a sense of achievement. He doesn’t feel quite so worthless.

Jenny, Hersham

Looking after yourself

People often say that receiving a dementia diagnosis for a loved one is an enormous shock but it’s important to remember that people with dementia can continue living well. However it’s crucial that you take care of yourself too and make sure you are accessing everything you need.

  • Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise will all keep you feeling more positive about your situation. But if you do find you’re struggling it might be worth speaking to your GP.
  • It can be particularly tiring caring for someone with dementia, especially as their condition progresses. Try to priorities all the tasks you need to do. What’s most important? What can you pass to others? Is there anything you can just not do? Acknowledge you are just one person. Help is out there, please ask us.
  • Getting practical things sorted – like having a Carers Assessment done, and registering with your GP as a carer will ensure you are accessing the support you’re entitled to.

Find out more about looking after yourself here.

Emotionally

Being the carer for someone with dementia can have additional emotional affects, particularly as the person you care for seems to change. You may feel a range of emotions – guilt, sadness, frustration, anger. But these are common feelings. Many others will feel the same as you, don’t feel bad about feeling them, but do try understand exactly why you’re feeling this way, and find out how to deal with your feelings.

Action for Carers can talk to you and advise on further sources of support. You could also talk to your GP, social worker or counsellor, or a close friend or understanding family member. Talking to other carers can really help – why not consider attending one of our dementia support groups?

It’s especially important to try and look after yourself, and find some time, even if it’s short, to do things you enjoy.

Try and keep going, and carry on doing what you’ve been doing. And hopefully your friends around you will accept this situation. It does mean you sort out people quite quickly (ie who will stick with you.) I don’t really think you should pretend they are alright. The more you talk about it, and are open, the more people will accept it. It’s more important to be honest, say how things are, even though it’s not easy. Just accept how the person is – and try and include them as much as you can.

Janet, Guildford

Support from Action for Carers

We can talk to you about your caring situation and suggest ways to help, let you know about ACS events and support groups, as well as signpost you on to further sources of help, from the council. NHS and other charities and community groups.

Support groups

We have support groups running regularly across Surrey, including some just for carers of people with dementia. It’s a chance to talk to others who understand, and share tips and advice. They are very relaxed, informal get-togethers – held at places like local cafes or garden centres. Find out about our support groups here.

My wife was diagnosed with mixed type dementia. I was her full time carer for three years as she would not have any other carers in the house. My wife was admitted to a care home in July of this year, so I now live on my own. But I still come to the support group and share my support with others. Please talk to others – you are not alone, help is always on hand. Action for Carers Surrey has shown me I’m not alone.

Stanley, Walton

Online forums

If you can’t get to a group, but can get on line, you may find the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Talking Point’ useful. It’s a forum for people to chat, and has dedicated sections called ‘I care for a person with dementia’ and ‘I have a partner with dementia’. Both are very active and may be useful to you if caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Events

We often run events for carers of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, such as information days or workshops, usually with guest speakers.

We also have general events that may help you, about looking after yourself as a carer, and social activities. Take a look at all our upcoming events.

Information and signposting

We can give you information and signpost you to other sources of support. A key source of support is Alzheimer’s UK’s Surrey arm.

Alzheimer’s Society

Dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society works to challenge perceptions, fund research and improve care and support. Too many families are facing dementia alone and we urgently need to improve care, offer help and understanding and find new treatments. There are over 16,200 people living with dementia in Surrey. Whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support help and advice. Alzheimer’s Society is active across Surrey in Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Farnham, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley and Woking.

Alzheimer’s Society runs a variety of services and programmes across Surrey, its main offerings are:

  • Dementia Support and Information – You can access numerous support and information services across Surrey. To find your nearest service you can visit alzheimers.org.uk and use the postcode service finder or call the free confidential helpline on 0300 222 1122. You can also use the interactive Talking Point service which is available 24hrs a day via the website. The local Surrey office is available on 01932 855 582 or via surrey@alzheimers.org.uk
  • Side by Side – is a service which is reconnecting people with dementia with their communities and favourite pastimes, using a new approach to volunteering. From joining a local club, going to the football, or just going for a stroll in the park, this innovative service pairs people with dementia and volunteers with shared interests. If you would like to get involved, please get in touch.
  • Time for Dementia – is an award-winning educational programme designed to create healthcare professionals who are more aware and understanding of dementia. The Society always need more families to participate in this vital training; please get in touch with them to find out more.

Carers’ Trust guide

Carers’ Trust publish a helpful guide for carers of people with dementia.

Other things you might find useful

Surrey Support Group

Support Groups

We have support groups running regularly across Surrey, including some just for carers of people with dementia.

People on a canal boat

Events

We often run events for carers of people with dementia or Alzheimers’s, such as information days or workshops, usually with guest speakers.

younger hand on arm of older man holding apple

Alzheimer’s Society

Dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society works to challenge perceptions, fund research and improve care and support.