What can I do?

The best way you can help someone with dementia is to give him or her some of your time. This can feel difficult. They may have better days and worse days, and you may not know what to expect.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say or do. Just being there can help. A person with dementia can often remember things that happened many years ago more easily than things that have just happened. They may forget recent events too quickly to talk about them, but enjoy talking about photographs, memories, music or films from the past. Try asking questions about things they used to do, and listen carefully to the answers. By doing this you can help to make your relative with dementia feel loved and involved.

Some people with dementia find it hard to talk to other people. Their illness has affected the parts of the brain that help them to speak and understand.  It can be hard spending time with a person who can’t speak, but sometimes just being there can help. Small things like holding hands, sharing a hug or sitting together can feel special for everyone.

Some people find it helpful to plan an activity to do together, or a topic to talk about. Visit the What works for us page to read ideas from young people who have a grandparent or parent with dementia. There are more tips here.

Each person with dementia is different, so talk about your ideas with the people who care for your relative or friend. Ask what helps to make your relative or friend feel happy, safe and calm.


This information was updated in November 2019 and is due for review in November 2021. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.