Dementia guide

Staying independent with dementia

Being diagnosed with dementia will have a big impact on your life. You and your family may worry about how long you can care for yourself, particularly if you live alone. People with dementia can remain independent for some time, but will need support from family and friends.

Living at home when you have dementia

In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to look after their homes in the same way as before their diagnosis. However, as the illness gets worse, it is likely that someone who has dementia will find it difficult to look after their home and they may need help with daily activities, such as housework and shopping. The home of a person with dementia may also need to be adapted to enable them to stay safe, mobile and independent.

Living alone with dementia

It’s good to stay independent for as long as possible. Many people with dementia continue to live successfully on their own for some time. However, be aware that, as your condition progresses, you will need extra support to help you cope, and it’s better to get this in place early.

Talk to family, friends and health professionals about how they can help you to stay independent. They can advise on how to cope with practical tasks, such as shopping. Find out about the local support services that can help you manage in your home – for example, by doing laundry and supervising meals.

Read more about sources of help and support for dementia.

Working when you have dementia

Coping at work can be worrying for people with dementia. You should speak to your employer as soon as you feel ready. You can also get advice from the disability employment adviser at your local job centre, your trade union or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you decide to leave work, seek advice about your pensions and benefits.

You could continue to work or return to work by asking your employer if you can change your workload. Your local disability employment adviser can help and advise you.

Driving

Some people with dementia prefer to give up driving because they find it stressful, but others continue driving for some time. To continue driving, you must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you have dementia.

The DVLA will ask for medical reports and possibly a special driving assessment to decide whether you can continue driving.

Read more about driving and dementia on the Alzheimer's Society website.

People with dementia must give up driving when their symptoms become bad enough to make them unsafe on the road. This is to protect themselves, their passengers and other road users.

Assistive technology for people with dementia

Assistive technology is available for people with dementia or other conditions that affect memory. AT Dementia is an organisation that provides access to technology aimed specifically at people with dementia, including:

  • daily living aids – special utensils to help people eat and drink
  • stand-alone devices – aids that can be used without being linked to a monitoring centre or carer
  • telecare – sensors or detectors that automatically send a signal to a carer or monitoring centre by telephone; you can read more about telecare on the Carers Direct website

Read more about aids and equipment, and moving and handling the person you care for.

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2015

Next review due: 19/06/2017

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Dementia: Singing for the Brain

Singing for the Brain is a service provided by the Alzheimer's Society, which uses singing and other activities to bring together people with dementia or memory loss. A group of participants and their carers talk about the service's benefits.

Media last reviewed: 03/05/2016

Next review due: 03/05/2018

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