5 Supporting everyday decisions

We explain ways in which people living with dementia can continue to make decisions and who might help them to make important decisions.

In this article

Click a subject to skip the content.

    Support your clients to make everyday choices to help them feel more independent and dignified.

    Understanding making choices and decisions with your client

    We make choices and decisions daily. These may be about everyday matters such as what to wear, what to eat and how to spend our time. Sometimes we need to make important decisions about where we live, how we spend our money, and how to look after our health. Making our own choices and decisions is important to our dignity as adults.

    If your client has dementia, this does not automatically mean they can no longer make any decisions for themselves. We explain ways in which people living with dementia can continue to make decisions and who might help them to make important decisions.

    Knowing some of the laws about decision-making and dementia will also help you to support your client now and as they move forward with dementia.

    You can also tell your client and their family about this website which covers information about making decisions and plans.  Making plans and decisions – person with dementia   Making plans and decisions – carer.

    Helping your client to make their own choices

    Being able to make decisions is called having mental capacity. Dementia can affect people’s mental capacity and their ability to make choices and decisions. Your client might struggle to understand the information they need to make decisions, or they may have difficulties remembering decisions they have already made. You can find out more about how dementia affects the brain in (SIGNPOST TO 1.1 HERE -UNDERSTANDING DEMENTIA)

    You may not agree with the choices your client is making, for example you may see them handing over valuable items to a family member.  If you are worried that decisions are affecting your client’s or your own safety or wellbeing, talk to your employer to seek advice. If you know your client’s family well, you might feel comfortable enough to ask their opinion but ask your employer about this.

    It is important to remember that people living with dementia will generally be able to make some decisions themselves. This will change as their dementia progresses, however there are ways you may be able to support your client to keep making choices for longer, such as choosing between different foods or items of clothing.

    The Social Care institute for Excellence (SCIE) offers useful hints to help you support your client to make decisions:

    • Think about the right time of the day to talk to your client about the decision – they may find it easier if they aren’t tired.
    • Make sure your client has the information they need to make a decision – this might be spoken or written.
    • Explain things to your client so that it is easy for them to understand – keep things as simple as possible.
    • Make sure they are using their hearing aid, glasses, or anything else to help with their understanding and communication.
    • Make sure your client has enough time to think about the decision, or talk about it with someone they trust.
    • Can you use prompts? For example, you could use pictures or photos to help your client.
    • If your client speaks another language a family member, or interpreter may be able to help. Ask your manager about this.

    Your client may struggle to make choices or may change their mind, but this doesn’t mean they are unable to make any decisions. Reassure your client that there is support available to help them to make decisions.

    Organisations who can provide advice and support about decision making and mental capacity include:

    Alzheimer’s Society (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

    Dementia UK

    Alzheimer’s Scotland

    Citizens Advice