Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe progressive conditions that affect the brain, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal, and dementia with Lewy bodies.
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There are currently 850,000 people thought to be living with dementia in the UK. By 2025, that number is estimated to rise to more than a million.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are estimated to be around 670,000 people in the UK acting as primary, unpaid carers for people with dementia. Some of these people never planned to become a carer, but took on the role when a relative or close friend was diagnosed.
Caring for someone with dementia can be hugely rewarding. But it can also be stressful and distressing.
The pressures can cause financial difficulties, relationship problems, and ill health. The good news is, there’s plenty of help and support available.
For tips on understanding dementia, how to support someone with it, and help them feel good about themselves, visit the Alzheimer's Society website.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, it can be helpful for carers to understand the impact dementia has on the person they’re caring for - how they think and feel, and how that affects their behaviour.
Here are some of the main signs to look for:
We all forget a name or a face sometimes, but regular forgetfulness is one of the most common signs, particularly when someone struggles to retain new information.
Other memory problems may include:
Whether spoken or written, communication can pose difficulties for those with dementia. People with dementia can often:
It can help them if you speak slower, maintain eye contact, and notice gestures and facial expressions.
Losing interest in socialising can also be a sign of dementia. Someone who’s usually outgoing may withdraw and stop wanting to see people.
They may also:
People with dementia may struggle with time and place. For example, they may confuse night and day, getting up during the middle of the night thinking it's morning.
They may also start to lose track of the time of year or the seasons.
Another symptom to look out for is issues concentrating, including taking longer than usual to process information.
Or they might feel restless, finding it hard to sit still for very long.
Dementia can cause problems with reasoning and the ability to make decisions, such as with financial matters. This could involve forgetting to pay the bills, impulsive spending, being easily persuaded to buy things they don’t need, or giving money away.
Problems working with numbers or keeping track of things involving numbers is another sign.
Following instructions, such as a recipe, could also be a challenge.
Look out for personality and mood changes, as well as mood swings and depression.
They may become:
If someone you know shows one or more of these signs, it doesn't necessarily mean they have dementia.
But if these changes have been happening for a while and are getting worse, they should speak to their GP.
The idea of visiting your GP for a dementia diagnosis can be frightening. As a result, some people may delay finding out.
To encourage them to see their doctor, you could offer to go with them. This could help if they have difficulties taking in, and remembering, new information.
If, however, they don’t want to see a doctor, you could contact their GP yourself to explain your concerns. Patient confidentiality means they won't be able to discuss their patient with you, but they should welcome the relevant information.
According to the NHS, if dementia is detected early, in some cases, its progress can be slowed, meaning the person affected may be able to maintain their mental function for longer.
Getting a diagnosis can also ensure they receive the right treatment, enabling them - and their family - to get support and plans in place earlier.
There are lots of other conditions which can cause similar symptoms which a GP can diagnose and treat if necessary, too.
According to Dementia UK, treatable conditions that sometimes look like dementia but aren’t, include:
Only a GP can diagnose what’s causing these symptoms, and only they can refer someone for an assessment.
At caba, we're working in partnership with Dementia UK to provide ICAEW members and their families access to the charity's specialist Admiral Nurses Dementia Helpline. For advice, information and support please get in touch.
It’s always helpful to be able to pick up the phone or go online and talk to someone who understands how you feel. Here are a few places you can go:
Run by trained advisers who provide carers with information, support, guidance, and details of other organisations that offer more specialist help.
Staffed by experienced Admiral Nurses who can give practical and emotional support and information about local services to carers of people with dementia.
Available to those who need help with their caring responsibilities and who want to talk to someone who understands their needs.
The helpline advisers can also give you information on things like benefits and assessments, and can put you in touch with other sources of help if you need them.
A community of carers who and understand the pressure you may be feeling. It’s open to all carers over the age of 18, whatever their circumstances.
Run by the Alzheimer’s Society, Talking Point is an online forum for carers and anyone affected by dementia. It’s a place where you can ask for advice, share information, join in discussions, and feel supported.
If you prefer to talk to people face-to-face, you can find where your nearest support group is by contacting your local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, or ask your memory service.
All carers have the right to have their needs assessed by social services. You may find you’re eligible for practical help from your local authority, such as respite care for the person you look after, or home adaptations.
To find out what help is available where you live, and to apply for a carer’s assessment, you can contact the adult social services department of the local authority where the person you’re caring for lives.
We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students.
You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer page.
If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.
*Please note none of our other services are means-tested.