What to do if you’re worried someone has dementia

If someone you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, encourage them to see their GP to talk about the early signs of dementia as there are different reasons reasons someone might be experiencing memory loss.

Encouraging someone to see their GP

If dementia is detected early, in some cases it’s progress can be slowed and the person affected might be able to maintain their mental function for longer.

It might help to suggest that you accompany your friend or relative to the GP to support them. This way, after the appointment you can help them recall what has been discussed.

Dementia is diagnosed by doctors ruling out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms and carrying out a thorough assessment.

A GP or a doctor specialising in memory problems will run a series of tests to see if there’s an alternative explanation for the problems. The doctor will also want to discuss how symptoms have developed over time.

Talking to someone with signs of dementia

Raising the issue of memory loss, and the possibility of dementia, can be a difficult thing to do. Someone who is experiencing these symptoms might be confused, unaware of their symptoms, worried or in denial.

Before starting a conversation with someone you’re concerned about, you should consider whether they:

  • have noticed the symptoms
  • think their problems are a normal part of aging
  • are scared about what the changes could mean
  • think there won’t be any point in seeking help

You should also consider whether you are the best person to talk to them about their memory problems.

If you do decide to talk to them, choose a place that is familiar and non-threatening. Make sure you allow plenty of time so the conversation isn’t rushed.

If the diagnosis is dementia

Being diagnosed with dementia can come as a shock, but over time many people come to see it in a positive way. This is because the diagnosis gives them clarity about their symptoms and is the first step toward getting the help and support they need.

Receiving a diagnosis can help people with dementia, and their family and friends, to take control of their situation and plan for the future.

Where to find help and support

You can find more information and support services from the following organisations, see also ‘more useful links section’:

The Public Health Agency has also produced a range of information to help support people with a dementia, their families and friends.

This information includes the following publications:

Dementia apps library

The ‘Apps4Dementia’ library is a digital service which groups together safe, trusted apps to provide information and guidance on the condition.

There a number of apps that offer support, self-care of symptoms and enable users to carry on with their day-to-day activities for as long as possible.

More useful links

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