Why good dementia care can be life changing

Everyone has a right to live well with dementia.

Dementia is a complex and progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.

The word “dementia” encompasses over 200 different conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy Body dementia. Each type of dementia prevents a person’s brain cells from working properly in specific areas of their brain, causing impairments in cognitive functions, memory, and behaviour.

There are currently 944,000 people in the UK who live with dementia. This number is expected to increase to over 1 million by 2030.

Dementia can affect a person at any age, but it is more common in those over the age of 65.

It is estimated that 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 in the UK has dementia.

It is important to note that dementia is not a natural part of ageing.

Each person will experience dementia in their own unique way, but typical symptoms include:

  • Memory loss: Especially short-term memory. Increase in forgetfulness, difficulty remembering recent events and retaining new information.
  • Cognitive decline: Difficulty in planning, problem-solving, decision making, following steps.
  • Language problems: Struggling to find the right words, follow conversations, and frequent repetition.
  • Disorientation: Confusion about time, place, and identity. Perceptual difficulties, such as judging distances on stairs, misunderstanding patterns or reflections, and discerning the edges of objects.
  • Behavioural changes: Increased agitation, mood swings, aggression, anxiety, and sadness. Loss of interest in daily activities, becoming withdrawn, and personality changes.

Dementia is progressive, meaning that symptoms can start be mild at the beginning, but they get worse over time.

Living with dementia can be very challenging, not only for the person themselves but also for their family and friends. As the condition progresses, the stress on family carers can often become physically and emotionally overwhelming.

However, it is entirely possible for a person to live well with dementia at home, with careful planning and the right support.

The hallmarks of good dementia care

Caring for someone with dementia is a demanding role that involves providing physical, emotional, and psychological support, as well as requiring a deep understanding of the individual and their condition.

The basis of good care necessitates several key qualities in carers, including:

  • Patience and empathy: Individuals with dementia may repeat questions, become easily frustrated, or forget familiar faces. Patience and empathy are crucial in managing these behaviours without causing distress to the person or those around them.
  • Effective communication skills: Simple, clear, and direct communication is vital for a carer. Complicated sentences should be avoided, and the individual being supported should be given ample to respond.
  • Observational skills: The ability to interpret a person’s non-verbal cues that indicate a particular need is important for carers that are supporting people who have become withdrawn or unable to speak. For example, frowning could indicate that the person is in pain or discomfort, constant pacing could be a sign that the individual needs to use the bathroom, and rocking or repetitive movements could signal that the individual is self-soothing in response to some stress.
  • Flexibility: Being able to adapt routines and approaches to support is necessary as dementia progresses, as symptoms and care needs are likely to change.
  • Problem solving: It is a much smoother experience for all involved when a carer is able to quickly and calmly address any issues as they arise. Panicking or getting flustered tends to make the situation worse.

Day to day dementia care strategies

Create a safe environment

Making sure an individual’s living space is safe is the first step to ensuring they receive good care. A safe environment can be achieved by:

  • Removing hazards: Eliminate trip hazards such as wires, cables, low furniture, and rugs. Install grab rails throughout the home, especially in bathrooms
  • Simplify the home’s layout: Keep furniture and belongings in consistent, easily accessible places.
  • Safety devices: Consider using personal alarms for the individual to alert of falls or location, and lockable drawers or cabinets to store potentially harmful items and medication.

Establish routines

A consistent routine provides a sense of security and predictability for individuals with dementia. For example:

  • Regular schedules: Consistently timed meals, medication and activities can help to reduce confusion and anxiety.
  • Simplify: Frequent, day to day tasks should be broken down into simple steps to maintain a calm, structured environment.

Promote physical and mental health

  • Exercise: Where possible, regular physical activity like walking, stretching, or chair-based exercises, can improve mood and physical health.
  • Mental stimulation: Engage in hobbies and activities that stimulate the brain, such as puzzles, reading, singing, or playing instruments.
  • Nutrition: A balanced diet with proper hydration can go a long way towards to improving an individual’s wellbeing. Dementia can make people forget whether they have eaten, so it is important that food and water intake is monitored. As the condition progresses, it may be necessary to involve healthcare professionals to ensure nutritional needs are met.

Managing behavioural changes

Changes in behaviour are a common symptom with dementia and they can be challenging. This can present in unique ways for each person, but some strategies for managing this include:

  • Distraction and redirection: Redirect the individual’s attention to a different activity if they become agitated or aggressive. This can often de-escalate the situation and help them to calm down.
  • Validation: The emotions that a person with dementia feels in any given situation are very real, even if their conclusions are inaccurate. Rather than confronting these inaccuracies, acknowledge the individual’s feelings. This can help them to feel heard and reduce stress.
  • Environment adjustment: Modify the environment to reduce potential triggers, such as loud noises, certain TV shows, specific smells disliked by the individual, and ensure there is sufficient lighting.


Caring for someone with dementia can be exhausting and mentally draining. It is crucial that family and friends who are proving support prioritise their own wellbeing. Consider:

  • Seeking support: There are many professionals, support groups and counselling services available that can help family carers to share experiences and gain advice.
  • Respite care: Dedicated respite care services can support families and friends to have time to themselves and recharge.
  • Healthy living: Maintaining physical and mental health through exercise, hobbies and social connections is vital to continue supporting someone with dementia.
  • Education: There are always new developments in dementia treatments and care strategies. Staying informed and up-to-date will ensure dementia care is always the best it can be.

As dementia progresses, there may come a time where the individual no longer has the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Therefore, to avoid potential legal issues, it is essential to plan for the future. This can include:

  • Financial planning: Consult with financial advisors, local adult social care teams (Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking), and care charities to manage expenses and plan for long-term care needs.
  • Insurance: Review health and long-term care insurance options.

Bringing it all together

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a journey filled with challenges and emotional complexities. However, with the right knowledge, strategies, and support systems as described above, every individual can receive the kind of dementia care that can positively change not only their life, but also the lives of their families and friends.

How Home Instead can help

Home Instead is a specialist dementia care provider. Our Care Professionals are highly trained to support individuals living with dementia, and they are carefully chosen for their kindness, empathy, and warmth.

We take time to learn what is important to the individual and their family, so our support is tailored to their needs.

We make sure the same Care Professionals visit each time, which is especially important not only for continuity of care, but also in building a trusting and effective relationship, as well as to help those with memory issues to recognise familiar faces.

Home Instead Canary Wharf has been rated as Outstanding by the CQC and our person-centred philosophy of care is focused on providing the highest quality service possible.

Our Care Professionals help to enhance the quality of life of individuals living with dementia, by allowing them to maintain a sense of dignity and independence for as long as possible.

We also support families and family carers to navigate the difficulties that arise when their loved ones are living with dementia, by alleviating the emotional and physical burdens family carers face. Our Care Professionals can allow family members to have time for themselves and to enjoy time with their loved ones without the anxiety and stress of also having to provide constant support.

So if you are curious about how we can help you, call our friendly team today on 0203 713 3161, or send us a message and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.

Dementia care with Home Instead