People who have been diagnosed with dementia can often still live well, and make the most of the time they have together with their family and friends.
Dementia changes what a person can and can’t do, but support from family and friends who understand dementia can make a big difference.
With support, a person may still be able to enjoy some of the activities and hobbies they did before they became ill. A healthy lifestyle that keeps their mind active can help to keep a person with dementia well for longer.
Visit the What works for us page to find out how young people have supported a grandparent or parent who has dementia.
Over time, many people with dementia become more confused and disoriented. 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.
Sometimes, a person who is living with dementia becomes depressed. This means that they feel very down most or all of the time, and no longer enjoy doing the things they used to. Depression is an illness that can happen to anyone, and it can be treated. A person who has dementia may be offered medicines or other treatments for depression.
Eventually, the illnesses that cause dementia may damage the parts of a person’s brain that control behaviour, emotions and personality. With some illnesses, these changes can be some of the earliest that people experience and it can feel harder to put yourself in their shoes and understand what life is like for them.
The most important thing to remember is that a person with dementia still has feelings. They may feel angry, sad, scared or anxious, but they can also feel happy, safe or calm.
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.
This information was updated in December 2017 and is due for review in December 2019. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.