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What to Do if You Think Someone Has Dementia

Fonthill House, St Albans, Hertfordshire

If someone you know is showing signs of dementia, it’s important to get them help as soon as possible. But advising someone to visit a GP can be difficult, which is why we’ve put together this guide to offer some helpful advice.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a group of symptoms that can affect memory and behaviour. There are four main types of dementia with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Unfortunately, dementia is progressive which means that symptoms can first appear mild but then worsen over time. Recent studies have shown that there are more than 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. In fact, 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have the condition.

What are the early signs of dementia?

Dementia affects everyone differently but there are a number of common early symptoms which you can look out for. The earlier you spot the signs of dementia, the quicker you can ensure the person gets the support or specialist care they need. 

The common early signs of dementia include: 

  • Memory loss
  • Changes in mood
  • Struggling with planning or solving problems
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Difficulty completing familiar daily tasks 
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Misplacing objects 
  • Forgetting words and struggling to follow conversations

How do you talk to someone who is showing signs of dementia?

If you think someone you know has dementia, it’s important to try and talk to them about it. Whilst it can be upsetting to begin these conversations, it can ultimately help them to get support. By talking to them about their symptoms, you’ll get a better understanding of how it may be affecting their everyday life. 

There isn’t necessarily a ‘correct’ way to talk to someone about the symptoms you’ve noticed as each individual will be different. However, there are a few tips you can use to help make the conversation as gentle and reassuring as possible.

  • Pick a familiar, comforting place to have the conversation. It’s important to make sure the person feels relaxed so that they can be open and discuss how they’ve been feeling. Busy or noisy places aren’t good choices for having these types of conversations as they can be distracting or anxiety-inducing. 
  • Be careful with the words you use. The person may not have noticed that they are showing signs of dementia, so it’s important to take things slowly. You could start by asking the person if they have noticed any changes or have been feeling different to usual. Try to emphasise that you want to support them and you’re only raising your concerns because you care.
  • If it feels appropriate, you could describe a few examples of changes you’ve noticed or things that you’ve become concerned about.  
  • Gently suggest the idea of going to see a GP. You could offer to attend the GP surgery with them to help them feel more comfortable. There are other conditions that can cause dementia-like symptoms, so it’s worth speaking to a GP even if you’re unsure whether it’s dementia or not.

For more information on dementia, you can visit the NHS website. Or, if you’re interested in the specialist care services we offer here at Fonthill House, feel free to get in touch.  

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