Dementia care is a form of specialist support designed to help people with dementia live life to the fullest. It’s provided by carers who are experienced and trained in caring for someone with dementia.
Specialist dementia care provides targeted assistance such reminiscence therapy, dietary adjustments, physical activity and support for challenging behaviour and sundowning.
Dementia is a broad term for a range of symptoms that involve memory loss, impaired communication and motor skills. It’s caused by a number of specific conditions, the most common is Alzheimer’s disease which causes damage to the brain’s cells – making it more difficult for them to communicate with each other.
With the right care and attention, those living with a form of dementia can have the opportunity to continue to live their life to the fullest – continuing with their favourite activities, remaining in their own home, and enjoying time with their friends and family.
While there’s no cure, many people do continue to to live a happy and fulfilling life for years after diagnosis.
What is dementia care?
Dementia care is a specialist support system designed to help a person with dementia to manage their symptoms – it’s provided by carers who are experienced and trained in caring for someone with dementia.
Dementia care refers to caring for all conditions defined as dementia – common types include Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body dementia, vascular Dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia – which is a combination of two or more types of dementia. It covers care for these conditions at all stages – from the early stages when people may experience difficulty concentrating or finding the right words in conversation, to the later stages, when a person with dementia may have a tendency to wander and become lost, or find it difficult to eat.
Specialist dementia care can also as provides targeted assistance through things like reminiscence therapy, dietary adjustments, physical activity and support for challenging behaviour and sundowning.
Symptoms of dementia
As there are many different types of dementia, and each is caused by different problems in the brain, symptoms can vary. Even in people with the same form of dementia, the symptoms experienced can be quite different.
- difficulty concentrating
- confusion – around daily tasks and times/dates
- memory loss
- struggling to follow a conversation
- mood changes
What is it?
A progressive disease which directly affects the brain and causes dementia.
It’s caused by a buildup of proteins which form abnormal structures that cause nerve cells to die and a loss of brain tissue.
According to the NHS, symptoms may include –
- confusion and disorientation
- difficulty making decisions
- low mood
- problems with speech
- personality changes
- memory loss
Where to find support –
Coping with the diagnosis of dementia
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is likely to be a frightening time, both for the person and their immediate family and friends. You may be worried about what the future holds, and how the effects of dementia will impact daily living.
A variety of charities and organisations are available to support those who have been diagnosed with dementia. From Age UK to the Alzheimer’s society, there are many support materials available for dealing with a diagnosis, talking to friends and family, and the legalities of a diagnosis. These organisations can connect you to others who are going through similar experiences too.
Make their home as safe as possible by installing grab rails in bathrooms, updating or installing smoke detectors and minimising slip and trip hazards. Some families use GPS tracking devices to keep an eye on relatives who might be prone to wandering, and if this is the case, it might be worth improving home security too.
You can find more information on creating a dementia friendly home in our guide.
Planning for the future
It’s important to make plans at the earliest possible stage so that you and your family have a plan of action and understand what choices you have. Most older people are keen to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own homes, and there are new dementia friendly technologies and adaptations that people with dementia can benefit from in the home – such as personal alarms, and daily organisers.
You may also want to explore your legal affairs – such as ensuring your wishes for the future are documented, in case a time comes when you can’t voice them.
Take a look at our guide to the legal affairs of older people
Power of Attorney
Confusion over money can be an early symptom of dementia, so appointing someone to take charge of the bank account and savings can be a vital step in ensuring that you or your loved on isn’t defrauded by anyone, or falls for scams – which are unfortunately becoming more common.
There are two specific types of Power of Attorney, one of them being Lasting Power of Attorney which is the one most appropriate for a dementia diagnosis.
Ordinary Power of Attorney: Ordinary Power of Attorney covers decisions about financial affairs and is valid whilst a person has mental capacity. This is suitable for those who need cover on a temporary basis, such as during a hospital stay.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): A LPA comes into effect if a person has increasing mental decline and will cover decisions about financial affairs or health and care. An LPA is set up if an individual wants to make sure they are covered in the future.
Caring for someone with dementia
If a loved one is living with dementia, there are a few things you can do to live life as uninterrupted as possible.
A person with dementia can continue with activities and hobbies they already enjoy, though they may take longer than they used to. If you’re supporting someone you may wish to encourage exercise, which can provide a range of benefits such as improving sleep and cognition.
You may want to keep a diary on their behalf to manage doctors’ appointments and social events. As the condition progresses, your loved one may need extra care and attention such as help with everyday tasks or personal hygiene – for example, they may forget to brush their teeth, or be unable to cook safely. At this point a live-in carer can help to keep as much independence as possible.
There is a lot of support available to everyone impacted by dementia.
For family members and friends support is available in the form of online communities and local groups, where you can share experiences and advice with people in similar situations.
How to communicate with someone who has dementia
When dementia progresses, people often have communication difficulties, and have an increasing loss of memory, therefore, it’s important to learn and understand better ways of communication, such as:
- During social interactions speak slower and clearer with shorter sentences and simple language.
- Keep questions to those which only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
- Avoid questions which test their memory.
- Use memory books with photos to help them reminisce about special times – this can really boost their mood. If they struggle with their vision, it may be best to keep these picture based.
- Try to understand the meaning behind what they are saying, even if it isn’t clear at first.
Dementia live-in care benefits
Whether through local authorities or private care companies, you’ll find plenty of help available for managing life with dementia – from arranging a cleaner once a week or daily meals on wheels deliveries, to 24/7 care from a live-in carer. Care at home is becoming the preferred option for many older people who can be unsettled by the idea of moving into a residential care home.
You should make sure that any caregiver you employ is experienced in dementia care or Alzheimer’s care, as those living with the condition usually require a high degree of patience and understanding.
Arranging live-in dementia care helps to keep you or your loved one safe in their own home, while maintaining a high degree of independent living. The constant presence of a dedicated carer can be a calming influence and help manage confusion or agitation through regular and comfortable routine. It can also give family peace of mind that someone is there to support around the clock.
Even if you’re choosing to be the carer for loved one yourself, it’s important to make time for your own needs and those of your immediate family. Respite care gives you a much-needed break, and most private live-in care companies will create a package to suit your relative’s exact needs, and you might find that the cost of live-in care works out cheaper than a care home facility.
Dementia Live-in care with Elder
Arrange care with Elder and pick your own carer
We know how important it is to put your loved one at ease. After you have spoken to a member of our team and filled in a Care Appraisal, you will be matched with carers with extensive experience and appropriate qualifications to give you the specialist help you need. You’ll have plenty of time to review their profile, introductory video, and feedback from previous customers, before choosing the carer you think fits you best.
So rest assured, if you or your loved one is living with dementia, such as late-stage Alzheimer’s, you will be able to choose a carer who can do everything required to look after you or your loved one, even as the condition progresses. Support ranges from light household work, and daily activities help in the early stages to more intensive support in the later stages.
Joanne’s dementia care story
Live-in care that keeps Mum in her dancing shoes
Rose has made a big effort to get to know Mum’s life and what makes her tick. It’s incredible how she’s really become part of the local community, just like Mum. She integrated really well and that comes down to the fact that whatever my mum does, Rose does too. They’re a bit of a dynamic duo together.
They also have concerts and sing together. This is great because it really brings people together – our whole family goes along to watch and Rose’s family do too.
We’ve been really pleasantly surprised how a real friendship has flourished. It means Mum has a real companion – someone who knows her really well. It’s lovely to see and makes her so happy.
Rose knows how to get my mum up and out of the house, to keep her motivated – which I think is really good for Mum’s condition. It can sometimes be tricky to get her out of bed but once she’s out, she always really enjoys it.
Mum has a free bus pass, which gives them both a bit of freedom to go on trips together. Rose sends me WhatsApp pictures of their days out – it’s lovely to see what they’re up to, you know, but also really reassuring to see Mum so happy.
Often on their trips, Rose takes Mum back to the town where she used to live. It jogs her memory, helping her connect with her past. She starts telling stories of her time there – usually tales of the places she sang in or played.
Choosing Live-in care when you require specialist care has many benefits:
- Remain in the community – Keeping precious routines and supportive social networks is good for your confidence and mental wellbeing, according to the NHS. Plus, many towns are becoming far more dementia friendly with shops, cinemas, and museums making positive changes to support those with dementia.
- Getting out and about – Live-in care means people with dementia maintain the freedom to come and go as they please. Being able to get out for regular walks and gentle exercise can help a person stay strong and flexible – making things like getting dressed and cleaning easier. It also supports healthier sleep, and is a great way to stay social and combat the sense of isolation that some people with dementia can feel.
- Keep pets and animals – There is an increasing body of research indicating pet ownership can reduce loneliness and associated health risks, such as stroke and heart disease. They can also provide valuable continuity for those living with Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia.
- Tailored nutrition – Meals can be individually tailored to a person’s nutritional requirements and tastes. Diet is particularly important for those living with dementia as it often changes people’s appetite and ability to eat and drink. For example, they may go off certain textures or smells, find it difficult to use cutlery, or simply forget to eat.
- Keep the same GP – The close relationship between your loved one and their GP is not just reassuring. There is increasing research to suggest this could help us live longer. When you move to a care home, this relationship is put at risk. especially if the care home is outside of the local area.
Why choose Elder
Whether your loved one needs a lot of support or just a little looking after, we offer flexible, cost-effective, 24-hour care tailored especially to them.
We know how important it is to feel comfortable with your carer. That’s why we’ll always let you handpick your carer.
Even at short notice, we’ll introduce you or your loved one to top-quality care when they need it. Even at 24 hours notice if urgent.
Whatever questions you have, our dementia care specialists and clinical team are here seven days a week.
No surcharges, no hidden costs, and no joining fees– just truly personalised care.
Expect a carer who really cares
To bring out the best in you or your loved one, we bring you the very best carers – just 10% of the carers who apply to join Elder’s platform make it through our screening process.
We’ll uniquely match you to a handful of carers based on everything you tell us you need via your care appraisal. You’ll be able to view a comprehensive profile and welcome video from each carer, before choosing who you like best.
Invest in peace of mind
Peace of mind needn’t cost the earth. We won’t surprise you with hidden fees for weekends, bank holidays or night-times.
Everything can be managed in your own MyElder account – from logging and updating your care needs and keeping your payment information secure, to inviting additional family members to join and have their say.
Our care advisors are here for you seven days a week
Big decisions need bespoke support. So, whether you’re ready to take the next step in arranging dementia care, or are just looking for some advice, give our friendly team a call.
Read more about dementia care
Click below to discover more on living with and caring for dementia.
Dementia Action Week is Alzheimer’s Society’s awareness campaign, which runs yearly to encourage people to ‘act on dementia’. At Elder, we want to shine a
Frequently asked questions
What is live-in care?
Live-in care is a type of dementia care. A caregiver moves into a spare room in your loved one’s house, and provides round-the-clock behavioural, medical and physical support.
For more details on live-in care and how it differs from residential homes, take a look at our ‘Live-in care or care homes: what’s the difference?’ page.
Are live-in carers trained to deal with dementia needs?
Elder-approved carers are well equipped to deal with low- to mid-level dementia needs, as well as manage the symptoms that come with the condition. More pronounced needs may, however, require a specialist environment, such as a nursing home.
Dementia isn’t something you should feel you have to manage on your own, and we’re here to help. As a starting point, try our ‘How to care for ageing parents’ page.
Do live-in carers look after all forms of dementia?
They do. Dementia is an umbrella term for all sorts of cognitive challenges, and Elder-approved carers know the effect each of them can have on behaviour, memory and more.
They understand how important it is to put your loved one at ease when they get confused, and to encourage the sort of reminiscence that can help stave off the condition. But above all, they understand the value of treating every case as unique, and learning what works for that particular person.
You can find out more about how the symptoms of dementia differ on our ‘What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?’ page.
I’m a caregiver to my elderly relative. Can I work alongside a live-in carer?
You can make use of live-in carers in whatever way you need. So if you want them to take on the bulk of the responsibility, they will. But if you just want a bit of support from time to time, that’s fine, too.
The only thing that matters is that you’re using them to enhance both your life and that of your loved one. We have a few tips on how best to do this on our ‘Caregiver tips’ page.
Should I choose live-in care or nursing care?
Live-in care and nursing care are very different ways to look after a loved one with dementia – and which you choose will depend on your circumstances.
Live-in care enables your loved one to stay in a place they find familiar, and one with the potential to stimulate their memory. Nursing care, meanwhile, is a tailored environment that has been designed with safety and security in mind. This may make it a better choice for those with severe needs.
To find out more, take a look at our ‘Live-in care or nursing homes: what’s the difference?’ page.
When should someone with dementia go into a care home?
There is no set timescale when someone living with dementia should start to receive full time care. It will differ from person to person. However, once a person begins to struggle to complete day-to-day tasks and to complete their own personal care, it may be time to consider care options.
Whilst a care home is a popular choice for many, there are other options to consider for those living with dementia – such as live-in care. Dementia live-in carers can help with both medical and complex care as well as day-to-day tasks and personal care.