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24 May 2019

Tackling loneliness in dementia

The number of people living alone with dementia is on course to double over the next 20 years

Each year, 6,000 more people with dementia will face living alone in towns and cities across the UK, according to Alzheimer's Society.

The dementia charity says there are currently roughly 120,000 people living alone with dementia in the UK - a number predicted to double by 2039.

But public awareness of people with dementia living alone seems low. A new YouGov poll revealed that 85% of people believe they're most likely to meet someone with dementia in a care home, when in fact two thirds of people with dementia live in the wider community.

Alzheimer's Society has launched an #AskUsAnything campaign for Dementia Action Week (20-26 May), aiming to end the awkwardness and create a more inclusive society for people with dementia.

Dementia - see Which? Later Life Care's articles for practical steps to take following a dementia diagnosis, living well with dementia and more.

Loneliness in dementia

Which? Later Life Care research has previously found that one in 10 older people feel lonely on most days - and a new Alzheimer's Society survey reveals that it's a bigger problem for people with dementia:

  • 58% experience loneliness.
  • 56% experience isolation.
  • 56% are losing touch with people since being diagnosed.
  • 29% feel unable to spend time with friends now they have dementia.
  • 27% feel they're not part of the community.
  • 23% feel that people avoid them.

Alzheimer's Society surveyed more than 350 people with dementia about their experiences of living in the community.

Living well with dementia

Being diagnosed with dementia is a challenge for everyone concerned. However, there are things that people with dementia can do to continue to live their lives in a similar way to before.

  • Pin a weekly timetable to the wall and note down appointments and activities.
  • Buy a digital clock that's specifically designed to help people with memory loss. Such clocks display the date, time and day of the week.
  • Make sure specific and important items have a 'home' so they're easier to find. For example, you could put a bowl on a table by your front door for keys.
  • Stick labels on cupboards or drawers as a reminder of where everything is kept.
  • Place a list of helpful telephone numbers, such as family members or the doctor's surgery, by the phone or on speed dial.

For more tips, and information on continuing to drive and work following diagnosis, see 'Living well with dementia'.

Practical things to do following a dementia diagnosis

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can be life-changing, but there are lots of practical steps you can take to stay in control for as long as you are able to.

For example, ask for as much information as possible from the GP or other specialists when discussing the diagnosis. Ask what form of dementia you have, what is likely to happen in the future, symptoms to be aware of, whether there are any medicines that can help, and what help and support is available locally.

There are also things you can do to help yourself financially. For example, you may be eligible for a 25% council tax discount, and either Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Find out more: Practical steps to take following a dementia diagnosis.