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How To Care For The Elderly With Dementia

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Symptoms Of Dementia

If you are caring for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, you may want to know more about their condition and what the best dementia care plan for them would be. Living with dementia can be frustrating and daunting, however with the right care it is possible to live well and independently, so your loved one can continue to do things they enjoy.

Most people living with dementia are over 65 and it is important to look out for the symptoms, especially if you are elderly. This can include memory loss, struggling with words, losing track of what day it is and mood changes. Nothing prepares you for life with dementia, but if you notice some of the symptoms, this can help prepare you to support your loved one, so they can live a high-quality life for as long as they can.

Common Symptoms and Behaviour Of Dementia

Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that your symptoms can get worse over time. It is a condition that affects people in different ways. Some may be able to continue to live their lives independently, while others may need extra support at home. However, there are common symptoms that affect people physically and emotionally.

Walking About

If you are caring for a person with dementia you may find they walk about. It can be very worrying, as at times they may even leave the house, which puts their safety at risk. According to Alzheimer’s Society, “it could be a sign that they may have an unmet need. By understanding what they need and looking for solutions, you can help to improve their wellbeing.”

Keeping a note of your loved ones out of character distressed behaviour can help identify their needs, which they may find difficult to communicate. This can be just a phase, but it is important to ensure that the person you are caring for is safe. For example, if they like to walk around in the garden, make sure there are no obstacles or trip hazards on the floor. Or if they get up at night and you’re sleeping, you may want to consider locking your front door just in case they leave.


According to Healthline, as dementia progresses, “a person’s ability to react quickly and remember things is reduced. They may no longer recognise when they experience the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement.” This would contribute to incontinence issues. Other reasons could include communication, not recognising the bathroom or being unable to get to the bathroom on time.

To help with continence care you can leave the bathroom door open with the light switched on, so your loved one can find the bathroom quickly. It may be a good idea to use waterproof mattress covers or incontinence bed pads to help with accidents. If they are struggling with their mobility, you may want to make the bathroom safer for them, for example, install a grab rail by the toilet to provide stability.


Feeling agitated or restless is a common symptom for those living with dementia. This can be due to anxiety and confusion. According to Alzheimer’s Society, change can have an impact on the way they are feeling, “such as increased noise or not being able to do something they previously could.”

One of the ways you can reduce restlessness is by continuing to reassure your loved one and get them to tell you why they are feeling anxious. Going for a walk and listening to music can also reduce agitation. After all, we tend to feel uplifted when we hear our favourite song.


According to Alzheimer’s Association, “a person with Alzheimer’s may believe a family member is stealing his or her possessions or that he or she is being followed by the police,” which is referred to as paranoia. This can be heightened due to other symptoms such as memory loss and confusion.

It is important to ensure you are sensitive to your loved one’s feelings and not to take offense to the situation. Try and talk and reassure them, so they know you are there to support them. You can even try and distract them by involving them in an activity or helping with the housework.


According to Alzheimer’s Society depression “is more common in people with dementia particularly if they have vascular dementia or Parkinson’s disease.” However, it is difficult to identify depression if they are living with dementia as the symptoms are similar. Such as social withdrawal, struggling to concentrate and loss of interest in hobbies.

If you see signs of depression, it is best to contact the GP so they can provide suitable treatment for your loved one.

Recurring Speech Or Habits

You may find your loved one repeating the same word or action. For example, folding a piece of clothing from the cupboard. Or they may repeat stories from the past. According to Social Care Institute for Excellence, this happens due to the “problems with short-term memory caused by dementia” and they may “have no recollection of having already said or asked something.”

As a carer, it is important to support your loved one and understand why they are repeating certain words or habits. Do not get frustrated, try and distract them by changing the subject of the conversation or doing another activity they might enjoy. If they keep asking the same question, try using memory aids such as notes, calendars, or photographs to help.


As dementia progresses, sleep disturbances tend to get worse. According to the Mayo Clinic, people living with dementia may experience “excessive sleepiness during the day and insomnia, with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.” This can be due to a side effect of a medication they are taking, anxiety or they may be in some discomfort. If you feel worried, get in contact with the GP.

Personal Care

As time progresses, your loved one may become less able to look after themselves. From getting dressed and toileting to haircare and shaving, you will find yourself taking responsibility for their personal care. It can be difficult for your loved one, especially if they have always been independent. It is important to make sure they feel in control and that you always respect their dignity. Try and be flexible, and ensure you promote their independence as much as you can, or contact us for our elderly care services to give you that extra support.


A healthy balanced diet is important, however, according to Alzheimer’s Society common dementia-related symptoms “such as memory loss and difficulties with thinking and problem solving can make it more difficult to eat and drink well.” This may also lead to weight loss.

To help support your loved one, it is important to respect their preferences. So, whether they enjoy eating a certain curry or like cucumber in their sandwiches, try and give them food they like. Try and eat together, it will also give them a sense of companionship. If you are still concerned, you can always contact the GP or a dietician.

Seek Dementia Care For The Elderly From Helping Hands

Our private carers at Helping Hands are widely recognised as dementia experts and have years of experience supporting individuals to live the very best life, regardless of their condition. If you are seeking dementia care on a visiting or live-in basis for you or your loved one, then get in touch with us today. Our friendly customer care team is available seven days a week. Alternatively, we can call you back at a time that suits you.

Page reviewed by Deanna Lane, Senior Clinical Lead & Dementia Specialist on May 9, 2022