Dementia: Frequently Asked Questions
Dementia is a condition that affects over 850,000 people in the UK, and many of us know a relative, friend, or neighbour who needs some extra support. Sometimes, the symptoms and behaviours associated with Dementia are difficult to understand.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you feel confident about caring for your loved one. Our Dementia Specialists have recommended specific approaches and techniques to enable you to support your loved one with their personal care, daily life, feelings of confusion or anxiety, and challenging behaviour.
Supporting your Loved One
What should I do if my loved one refuses personal care?
An elderly person may no longer have a stored memory of modern terms such as ‘shower’ and ‘shower gel’, and imagines personal care to be a tin bath with a bar of soap. Swap shower gel for soap and gently massage your loved one’s hands in a bowl of warm water – this is much more appealing than ‘washing’. It may be that the individual dislikes the feeling of their skin being wet. If this is the case, please wash one area of the body and dry immediately afterwards.
My loved one has a fear of water. How do we overcome this?
If your loved one does not like water, try using body lotion as a distraction. In this way, you can incorporate washing as part of their daily routine. Begin by saying ‘I have a new body lotion, would you like to try some?’ If your loved one says yes, put a little onto their hand and continue to offer the lotion over the following days. When your loved one feels comfortable with this process, say ‘I think we should wash our hands first’. This way, you are introducing washing using a step-by-step approach. Alternatively, you could offer a wet wipe, which may prove less distressing.
My loved one is very shy during personal care. How can I help her to feel less self-conscious?
My loved one dislikes getting dressed. How can I make this a more enjoyable experience
What should I do if my loved one refuses to use the toilet?
Is there anything I can do to prevent my loved one urinating around the house?
My loved one has started to collect their faeces out of the toilet. Why is this happening?
My loved one is very unsettled when we return from daily outings. How can I help them to feel they are home?
My loved one can find having visitors distressing. Is there any way we can overcome this?
Can patterned carpets and wallpaper affect someone living with Dementia?
My loved one becomes infuriated when answering automated phone calls. Is there a reason for this?
Leaving the house
My loved one often tries to leave the house and go outside. Is it safe for them to do so?
My loved one keeps running away from me when we are out in public. How can I stop this happening?
How can I help my loved one to feel less anxious when they have to attend appointments?
My loved one becomes anxious when hearing passing traffic and people. How can I help to reduce this anxiety?
My loved one will not let me wash her clothes. Is there any way around this?
How can I initiate movement when my loved one refuses to stand?
What should I do if my loved one refuses to walk up the stairs?
Following – day time
My loved one has started following me around during the daytime. Is there a reason for this?
Following – night time
Is there a reason my loved one comes into my room at night time?
1. If your loved one feels safe with you, they may just want to check that you are still there. Reassure them, and guide them back to their own bedroom. To help them recognise the time of day, open the curtains to show them that it is dark outside.
2. If your loved one used to sleep in a different room, then they may feel that they are in the wrong place and begin searching for what they believe to be their bedroom. The easiest solution is to move them back to their original bedroom.
3. If your loved one used to share a bed with their husband or wife then they may be looking for them. If their husband or wife has passed away, gently distract them and guide them back to bed. If your loved one and their husband/wife now sleep in different rooms, see if it would be possible to have separate beds in the same room.
4. If your loved one used to have children, they may be checking that they are okay. Sometimes people living with Dementia respond well to a doll, as it gives them something to focus their attention on.