About Dementia

About Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of syndromes that affect how well our brains work. Find out more about dementia and how you can support people with dementia and their care partners below.


Supporting a person with dementia

Support a person with dementia

Supporting a care partner

More information

What is dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of syndromes that affect how well our brains work.

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimers Disease.

Other forms of dementia include Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia.

Although Dementia is mostly seen in older people, it is not a normal part of aging.

The symptoms of dementia can vary from person to person but most commonly include changes in behaviour & personality, memory loss, impaired reasoning and reduced language skills.

Dementia is a progressive condition meaning the brain is impaired more and more over time. How quickly the dementia progresses is different for each person and can depend on the type of Dementia.

While dementia is a very serious condition, it is possible to live a happy and fulfilling life with dementia.

We can help.

Contact us to enquire about our About Dementia education session or visit Alzheimers New Zealand website for more detailed information about Dementia.

Communication with a person with Dementia

A key part of supporting a person with Dementia is communication, and communication can sometimes be a little challenging. So, we have put together 10 Top Tips for communicating with a person with Dementia. These tips have come directly from people with Dementia and their carers. Download the 10 Top Tips brochure here.

Supporting a person with dementia

It can be challenging when a person close to you is diagnosed with Dementia. They may act differently or not seem like the person you used to know. You may not feel like you can interact with them in the same way you used to and may feel a little awkward.

Try to remember that it is also a very hard time for the person with Dementia and that while they may seem different at times, they are still the same person you love.

“I am still me”

Here are some practical ways you can support a person with dementia

  • Try your best to interact with them in the same way that you always have, (e.g. do you usually joke and tease each other? How do you usually greet each other? with a hug or a handshake?)
  • Tell them your name every time. You may also need to add a bit more detail for them E.g. “Joe from Rotary” or “Sarah, Jan’s daughter”
  • Spend some time with them doing things they enjoy. You may need to bring something with you that you can do together like a puzzle or some plants for the garden.
  • Chat, chat, chat. Reminisce about old times, share stories and listen to their stories, even if you have to listen to the same story several times.
  • Rather than asking them questions, make statements or share ideas, and offer time for them to process their thoughts and respond.
  • Take a quick look around the house and see if there is anything you could do to help. Could you do some shopping for them, change a light bulb, mow the lawn or make their bed.
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    Supporting a care partner

    The most important thing that carers tell us is that they just want people to stay in touch, and to not abandon friendships and relationships when the going gets tough. So do your best to get your head around dementia, and contact us if you need advice on tips and strategies that help you to be confident about offering your help.

    Practical ways to support a carer

  • Offer your time to the carer to talk, listen, and allow them to feel heard and understood.
  • Give your time to the person with dementia, so that the carer can have time out. It’s important to ask if the carer wants an opportunity to stay home and put their feet up, or would rather be free to go out to relax.
  • It can be hard for some carers to leave the house even for short times. So a helpful option might be to arrange a regular time to call in, so that they can plan for appointments, and doing sundry messages.
  • Ask the carer to provide a list of ‘to-do’ items that you can complete for them.
  • Or if you are visiting, just ask if there are simple maintenance jobs you could do e.g. gardening, spring cleaning, moving heavy objects, checking that a vehicle is roadworthy and safe.
  • Sometimes carers struggle to reach out to organisations for help, simply because initiating contact is just too hard. With their permission, could you make that call for them?
  • Find out what they like to eat, and drop off some home-made food.
  • Find Out More About Dementia

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