Dementia Awareness

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A person with dementia will still experience all the usual adult emotions, even though their ability to express them may be affected.

A person with dementia will still experience all the usual adult emotions, even though their ability to express them may be affected.

Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and physically stressful and different members of the family can be affected in different ways.

Dementia Australia has a few tips about how you can support a friend or relative with dementia, or their carer.

Help your friend maintain independence: Support the person with dementia to do as much as they can for as long as possible. Remember not to take over and to give the person the time and space he or she needs.

Listen patiently: Give your friend time to search their brain for the word they want to use. Try not to finish sentences for them.

Communicate clearly: Stick to closed ended questions (with yes/no or obvious answers) such as: “Would you like to sit here or sit there?” Open-ended questions (eg “What would you like to do today?”) can be confusing for a person with dementia. 

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Be realistic about memory loss: Your friend won’t remember everything, even recent events, so don’t be offended if they don’t remember something special. 

Maintain contact: Think of ways to help family members keep up their hobbies or interests. Often family members or carers drop out of activities when just a little bit of assistance could help them stay active. 

Do little things – they mean a lot: Help with day-to-day things. For example, if you are out performing a few errands, check with a family member to see if there is anything they need you to do. 

Give carers a break: Offer to spend time with the person with dementia so family members can go shopping, attend support groups, visit friends or just have some personal time.

Be specific when offering assistance: Ask the family exactly how you can assist with jobs like gardening, cooking or shopping.

Be a good listener: You don’t need to provide answers – just be compassionate.  

Learn more and get involved: Understanding dementia will help you be a supportive friend. Attend one of Dementia Australia’s free community information sessions.