Getting help with caring for someone with dementia

Overview

Caring for someone with dementia can be a hard and demanding task. Try not to take on all the work and responsibility by yourself, even if you feel it’s what you want to do. If you do too much you may damage your own health and not be able to care at all.

Sharing is caring

Other people can help you. Explain to members of the family, friends and neighbours about dementia.

Perhaps someone could sit with the person with dementia for a couple of hours to let you go out, for example.

Just as important is the help you can get from services and benefits provided by the social work department, the health service, the Department for Work and Pensions and voluntary organisations. Don’t think twice about asking them for help.  You have a right to have help. with caring for someone with dementia

Health services

The doctor (GP) is the first person to contact. Make sure the person with dementia has a proper diagnosis. You can ask for a referral to a specialist.

Tell the doctor about any changes in the person’s condition. If the doctor asks how you are, don’t say ‘fine’ if you are exhausted or upset. Be honest and explain exactly how you are feeling. The GP or specialist will advise on whether any drug treatments available might be suitable.

You can also ask the GP about these other health services:

  • Community mental health or community psychiatric nurses give practical help and advice on mental health. They can help you to find ways of coping with difficult behaviour 
  • District or community nurses provide some nursing care at home. They can help with continence problems 
  • Health visitors advise on general health 
  • Physiotherapists can help with the person’s mobility, independence and reducing the risk of falls 
  • Day hospitals provide medical assessment, rehabilitation and occupational therapy 
  • Respite care may sometimes be available in hospital for people with severe dementia. 

Social services

The person with dementia has a right to a community care assessment from the local social work department to work out what his or her needs are and what services would help.

Carers also have the right to an assessment of their own needs. There is no charge for an assessment, but there may be charges for services, depending on the person’s income.

Free personal and nursing care is available for everyone in Scotland aged 65 and over who needs it, whether at home, in hospital or in a care home. Free nursing care is available for people of any age. If you don’t agree with the care assessment or are not happy with any of the services being offered, you should speak to the person who has been co-ordinating the assessment and negotiate any changes you may need. If you are still not satisfied, you can make a formal complaint.

  • Home care services assist with personal care 
  • Home support services can spend time with the person with dementia and give the carer a break 
  • Occupational therapists can suggest ways to improve safety, maintain independence and encourage wellbeing 
  • Day centres provide activities suitable for people with dementia, and a chance to socialise. In some areas there may also be care available in the evenings and at weekends 
  • Respite care in a care home may be available to give the family a break 
  • Other services may be available, such as laundry services and meals on wheels. 

Money and legal matters

People with dementia become gradually less able to manage their own affairs. We've put together advice and information on Money and Legal matters.

There is a range of benefits that may help you and the person with dementia. Contact the freephone Benefit Enquiry Line for disability and carers’ benefits on 0800 88 22 00 (textphone users 0800 24 33 55). They can advise confidentially on all benefits for people with dementia and carers and can complete forms for you over the phone.

Or you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or our 24 hour Dementia Helpline on freephone 0808 808 3000 for information.

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