Should we all be dementia friends?

Bernadine McCrory from the Alzheimer’s Society wants to change the way people think about dementia...

What is the dementia friends campaign about?

It’s an initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. 

Why is it important for health care staff?

You’re at the frontline of care and you can help people with dementia live well. There’s a lot of negativity around the condition but a diagnosis doesn’t change someone as a person. 

They still have a role to play and you can help them do this by knowing the person you’re supporting and helping others understand their condition.

You're at the frontline of care and you can help people with dementia live well

Can anything be done to prevent dementia?

No. Better vascular health could help slow the progression of vascular dementia but currently there’s no way to completely prevent it. 

Keeping active, maintaining a good diet, blood pressure control, using statins, minimising alcohol intake and looking after mental wellbeing will help people with a diagnosis to manage better.

Is dementia a natural part of ageing? 

Not at all. It’s caused by changes in the brain. 

Is it just about people forgetting things?

No. When there’s a reduction in brain function there’s damage to thinking, planning and remembering.

Consider the individual – sensitivity is required to deliver upsetting news whether the person has dementia or not

Is Alzheimer’s disease the same as dementia?

No. Dementia comes in many forms. Dementia is the group of systems caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Lewy Body dementia. 

62% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease.

Should I tell someone with dementia upsetting news if they’ll forget anyway?

Yes. They have the right to know. Consider the individual – sensitivity is required to deliver upsetting news whether the person has dementia or not.

Things to remember...

When you're talking to someone with dementia, do:

  • find a quiet place
  • keep it simple
  • get their attention first and maintain eye contact
  • listen carefully
  • keep checking for understanding.

When you're talking to someone with dementia, don’t:

  • talk down to a person
  • ask lots of questions
  • talk a lot
  • continue if the person becomes restless
  • put them under pressure
  • ask "why?"

The view from here 

"One of the ways we try to give our patients with dementia the best possible care is by allowing them to wake up naturally. Who would want to be woken at 7am, just to sit in a chair all day? I certainly wouldn’t.

"For patients with dementia who are already confused there will be an impact if they’re disturbed while sleeping and settled. Is it any surprise that they may feel angry or get aggressive?

"In a task-based environment, it’s important that everything gets done. We make sure our patients are fed, get their medicines on time and aren’t allowed to sleep for too long. 

"Dementia is a growing, progressive disease and it’s something that we’re all going to be facing in one way or another. I’m proud to be able to give dignified care to my patients. It’s the kind of care I’d want for my own family member."

Nadene Jones
HCSW at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil

More information

Dementia signs and symptoms include:

  • memory loss
  • communication problems
  • mood changes
  • sight and other visual difficulties
  • difficulty in talking things through and planning
  • confusion about time or place.

To find out more about becoming a dementia friend, visit the dementia friends website.


Dementia Friends logo

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