How to interact with someone with dementia

There are currently 850,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and numbers are predicted to rise to one million by the year 2025 and two million by 2051.

The main reason for the increase is the fact that we are living longer. It affects one in 14 people aged 65 and over and one in six people over the age of 80.

Type two diabetes and obesity rates are also rising and playing a part in the rise of dementia sufferers, along with other risk factors such as smoking, drinking, high blood pressure, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Early dementia symptoms include difficulty following conversation, repeating questions, misplacing objects, getting slower at grasping ideas, showing poor judgement or becoming withdrawn.

For many people it can be difficult and upsetting to interact with someone with dementia, but we have put together some helpful advice you can follow on how to behave around friends or family members with the disorder and allow you to enjoy your time with them.

Keep things positive

It’s important to try to keep a person with dementia’s environment and situation as positive as possible. It can be difficult as not everyone with dementia is regularly in a positive mood but having positivity around them can really help lift their overall mental well-being.

Keep it simple

People with dementia may struggle to remember complex conversations or instructions so things need to be kept clear and simple.

They might often tell stories that are false or they might get information muddled or incorrect but it’s up to you to listen and recognise in your own mind that things might not be as they seem as judging them and correcting them can upset them and leave them feeling more confused.

Be kind and laugh

Confusion and anxiety can affect a person with dementia greatly so it’s important to be kind and give encouragement, empathy and support.

Reminiscing can be very soothing for them too so look back on their life together. Prompt them on memories from their past, particularly humorous ones as laughter is a great helper.

We have worked with people with dementia for many years and through this we have developed a variety of different techniques which can be used when caring for someone with the condition. You can find out more about these here.