What should I do if I think a relative or friend has dementia?

If you're concerned about a friend, relative or even yourself, then you should seek help as soon as possible. Your GP should be the first point of call as they can rule out other diseases or conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

An early diagnosis can help you plan for the future, by finding you the right level of support and helping you cope if you have to care for someone with dementia.

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Getting diagnosed

Explaining it to others

If your loved one is living with dementia, their behaviour may start to raise questions from many people, such as children or neighbours.

Many people have family experience of caring for someone with dementia and will be very understanding once you have explained the situation. They may also be able to provide advice or support, giving you reassurance that others will be keeping an eye out if necessary.

Explaining the situation to children may be more difficult, especially if they have a close relationship with the person. It might be helpful to be as honest as you can, encouraging the child to ask questions so you can understand what they’re concerned about. Try to find activities that they can do together, such as playing cards, baking or discussing the past.

Planning for the future

In the later stages of dementia it can be helpful for you to remember details about the person's wishes, so you will know what choices they would make with regards to their care. You can also get them to record key elements of their life and personality, which can be useful if they have to move to a care home. It would also be helpful to talk to them about their future choices, such as what they would want to happen at particular stages, especially at the end of their life.

What's next?