Dementia guide

What to do if you've just been diagnosed with dementia

If you've just been diagnosed with dementia, you may be feeling numb, scared and unable to take everything in. Give yourself a little time to adjust.

If you can, talk to family and friends about your feelings around a dementia diagnosis.

Once the initial feelings have passed, it's time to try to move on and create an action plan for the future, while you're still able to make clear decisions for yourself.

This page covers:

Get assessed

Services and support

Make a will

Put your papers in order

Claim benefits

Lasting power of attorney

Advance care planning

Driving

Take care of your health

Create your life story

Dementia books on prescription

Get assessed

Your local authority has a duty to carry out a care and support needs assessment to establish which services you may need. To arrange an assessment, contact social services or your GP.

Find out more about how to get an assessment for a person with dementia. For further information, read Alzheimer's Society's guide to care and support assessments.

Services and support

Find out what's available locally so that you're prepared and able to call on this support as and when you need it.

Services arranged by local authorities vary between areas but may include home care services, equipment and adaptations for your home. Some services, such as community nursing, are arranged through the NHS. Ask your hospital consultant or GP for details.

Charities such as Age UKAlzheimer's Society and Dementia UK provide a range of services, including information, helplines, support groups, lunch clubs and home care schemes.

Read more about what to expect from social services and the NHS, and where to find sources of help and support for people with dementia.

Find local dementia services and information.

Make a will

It's a good idea to make a will, if you haven't already. This ensures that when you die, your money and possessions go to the people you choose.

A person with dementia can still make or change a will, provided you can show that you understand what you're doing and what the effects will be. Your solicitor can advise if this is the case.

Read more about dementia and legal issues, including making a will.

Put your papers in order

Make sure all your important papers can be found easily. These might include bank and building society statements, mortgage or rental documents, insurance policies, your will, tax and pension details, bills and guarantees.

Consider setting up direct debits or standing orders for your regular bills. This means they'll be paid automatically from your bank account each month.

Read more about managing someone else's banking.

Claim benefits

Make sure you're claiming all the benefits you're entitled to. In particular, check whether:

Other benefits you may be eligible for include income support, housing benefit, council tax relief and pension credit.

Age UK has useful information on benefits and how to claim them.

Lasting power of attorney

You can appoint one or more people as "attorneys" to manage your affairs, including your finances, property and medical treatment, should it become necessary. You can choose anybody you trust to be your attorney – usually a close friend or family member – but they must be over 18.

Read more about power of attorney.

Advance care planning

You may wish to make an advance care plan so you can have a say in your future medical care or where you would prefer to be cared for.

Making an advance decision enables you to refuse, in advance, a specific medical treatment or procedure should you become unable to decide for yourself.

Find out about advance care planning.

Driving

A diagnosis of dementia doesn't necessarily mean you have to stop driving immediately, but you are legally required to inform the DVLA and your car insurance company promptly.

The DVLA will contact your hospital consultant or GP for further information on whether you can continue to drive safely.

Read the Alzheimer's Society factsheet on driving and dementia (PDF, 941kb) for more.

Take care of your health

It's important to look after your physical and mental health when you have dementia:

See your GP if you feel unwell, as things like chest or urine infections can make you feel very confused if not treated promptly.

Read more about living well with dementia.

Create your life story

Memory books can be a helpful way of stimulating your memory and reconnecting you with your loved ones in the future.

Essentially, it's a "This Is Your Life" compilation of photographs, notes and keepsakes from your childhood through to the present day. It can be either a physical book or a digital version.

You may also want to create a digital or online "playlist" of your favourite musical soundtracks.

Dementia books on prescription

Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia offers information for people diagnosed with dementia, as well as their relatives and carers. GPs and other health professionals can recommend titles from a list of 25 books on dementia. The books are available for anyone to borrow free of charge from their local library.

The books are also available to people who may be worrying about dementia symptoms but don't have a formal diagnosis.

Read more about the Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia titles.


Page last reviewed: 19/06/2017

Next review due: 19/06/2019

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