Finding out about a dementia diagnosis can help you to support your client
Does my client have dementia?
You might notice changes in your clients’ behaviour. For example, you may notice that your client forgets things such as who has visited them recently or when they last took their medication. They may seem confused or get mixed up when you ask them questions. They may repeat themselves. They might find it difficult to tell you what they want or become upset or angry when you try to help them with everyday tasks like getting washed. People may talk about the past or talk to you in a different language. They may confuse day and night. You may notice they are struggling to shop or take care of their house or garden. Someone might show one, some, or all these changes.
By finding out if your client has a dementia diagnosis, you may be able to help them to manage these changes.
It might be helpful to talk to your client and their family, friend, or advocate about your concerns with your client’s permission. They may have concerns too. If your client refuses this permission then you should talk to your manager.
If your client does not have a diagnosis of dementia, they may benefit from talking to their GP about these problems. Your client may have other health problems which are leading to changes in their behaviour but are not related to dementia. You could suggest this but if they refuse, talk to your manager.
If your client has a dementia diagnosis
If you are caring for someone with dementia, it may help to know which type of dementia someone has. Different types of dementia affect the brain in different ways. So knowing the type of dementia the person has can help you to understand how this affects the person and the help they might need. For example, someone with vascular dementia may have sudden changes in their mood; and someone with Alzheimer’s disease may very quickly forget something they have just told you or repeat things. Find out more about different types of dementia here (link to article 1.1)
The person may forget that they have dementia, or may not have been told their diagnosis. They may not like the word ‘dementia’ or may prefer to talk about ‘memory problems’ or ‘being a bit forgetful’. The person may become upset if you ask about their memory but asking in a sensitive and caring way may help.
Here are some hints for finding out more about if a person might have dementia:
- Check the person’s care record or care plan to see if a dementia diagnosis is recorded, and if so the type.
- Talk to the person – ask them if they sometimes have problems remembering things or other difficulties with thinking, to start the conversation.
- If family are there, with your client’s permission ask if they know what type of dementia the person has and how it affects them.
- Pay better attention to their home environment– Do you see lots of notes, calendars, diaries, and other visual prompts on display in their home?
- See if the care plan says that there is someone who is able to act on your client’s behalf.
We have put together a list of questions that you might want to ask the person or their family. You might find this helpful as a starting point for the questions you’d like to ask. Print out the question sheet and add your own questions so you can talk to others.
Where do I find trustworthy information on dementia?
If you want to know more about dementia, we provide some suggestions below. Choose what information you need, and in what format.
Read online information about dementia
The Alzheimer’s Society has many resources such as fact sheets and videos. Information is also available in different languages such as Welsh, Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Traditional Chinese and Urdu.
There is also information available in British Sign Language (BSL)
Watch videos about dementia
The Social Care Institute for Care (SCIE) has some excellent short videos explaining about dementia and what it feels like to live with dementia.
Watch Dementia from the inside to find out about the difficulties and challenges people can face and how their dementia affects them.
Read books about dementia
The Alzheimer’s Society has produced a guide especially for homecare workers ‘Support and care for people with dementia at home: A guide for homecare workers.’
There is a cost for this book, but your employer may have a copy or be able to buy it for you.
Listen to a podcast about dementia
The Discovering Dementia podcast has stories from people living with dementia, family carers and healthcare professionals. They share their experiences of life with dementia, care and different therapies.
Talk to a dementia professional by phone
Dementia Connect Support Line is available seven days a week. You can talk to a dementia advisor for personalised information, support and advice by calling freephone 0333 150 3456
You can also talk to an Admiral Nurse for information, advice and support. You can call their free helpline seven days a week. The free helpline number is 0800 888 6678
Do an online course about dementia
There are many free courses that you can access online to help you find more information about dementia:
- The University of Derby has a general course – Bridging the dementia divide.
- University College London offers a course on less common causes of dementia like Lewy Body and Frontotemporal dementia – The many faces of dementia.
- The University of Tasmania offers free, online 7-week courses about dementia for people living anywhere in the world.
For specialist courses in providing dementia care aimed at homecare workers visit our section about training..
- With your client’s permission talk to someone who knows your client well (their family, friend, or advocate) to find out if they have a dementia diagnosis
- Find out more about dementia by watching a video, visiting a trusted website or taking a course.
- Ask your employer to invite someone to speak about dementia on a staff training day or event.
Ask your clients doctor and find more support
Asking healthcare professionals more about your dementia symptoms and treatment and support options.
Call Dementia Connect 0333 150 3456 for free for personalised information, support and advice.
You can also take a look at our questions about a dementia diagnosis fact sheet