What does it feel like to have dementia?

A person with dementia feels confused more and more often. When they can’t make sense of the world or get something wrong, they may feel frustrated and angry with themselves. They may become angry or upset with other people very easily. They might not be able to say why. They may not know why.

Everyone feels confused sometimes. It’s the feeling you get when things don’t make sense, or you don’t know what you should be doing.

If someone seems angry with you, it can feel horrible. Remember that it’s not your fault, and it’s not their fault. It happens because the person’s brain is not well. They may not be able to control their emotions any more. They may not be able to put themselves in your shoes, and realise they are upsetting you.

People with dementia can still feel nice feelings, too. They can feel happy, safe and calm. Some people with dementia may seem like their usual self almost every day and you may only notice small changes every now and then. Some people with dementia may not have as many good days. Those days when they do feel more like their old self can be particularly special.

Everyone with dementia is different. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the person you know has not been ill for very long, they may be able to tell you what dementia feels like for them.

A person who has had dementia for longer may not be able to tell you how they feel. But you can learn to recognise when they are feeling happy, safe and calm.

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Questions

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.