Dementia is a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but if you have dementia, they can become severe enough to affect daily life. You might also experience changes in your mood or behaviour.
- about 64 per cent of people affected by dementia receive a diagnosis
- about 3.5 per cent of people affected are under the age of 65
- as of 2015, up to 90,000 people in Scotland were affected by dementia
- as the population ages, the number of people with dementia is steadily increasing as the risk of developing the disease increases with age.
If someone you know has dementia, a few simple steps can help you communicate with them1:
1. be calm and patient
2. face the person, speak clearly and slowly
3. make sure you have their attention by gently touching their arm and saying their name
4. use short, simple sentences and say exactly what you mean
5. try to get one idea across at a time
6. allow plenty of time for the person to take in what you say and to reply
7. try not to confuse or embarrass the person by correcting them bluntly
8. use questions which ask for a simple answer
9. don't ask questions that test their memory, eg 'who am I?' or 'what did you do yesterday?'
10. talk about familiar people, places and ideas
11. use the names of the people you are talking about instead of 'he' or 'she'. It will remind the person of who you are talking about
12. use facial expressions and hand gestures to make yourself understood.
Remember, actions speak louder than words! For someone with dementia, a smile, touch or gesture can be just as important in getting the message across and showing that you care. Sometimes holding the person's hand when you talk can be very reassuring.
1. Adapted from Communicating with someone who has dementia: 12 helpful hints compiled by Nicky Thomson, Good Morning Project Ltd and the North Dementia Forum. August 2009.