Daily living and dementia

The advice on this page is for people who are living with or caring for someone with dementia.

In the early stages of dementia, many people are able to enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis.

How to support someone with dementia day-to-day

The main way you can help someone with dementia is by offering support sensitively. Try not to be critical of what they do.

It’s important for the person with dementia to feel that they’re still useful and of value.

Create a regular daily routine

Having a daily routine can be helpful for people living with dementia and the people who care for them.

This can help encourage feelings of security, value and worth. It also helps to avoid situations where people involved might feel criticised.

Use memory aids

Memory aids can be used around the home to help the person remember where things are. For example, you could put pictures on cupboard doors of what’s inside, like cups and plates.

If you have an Alexa or similar digital tools you can use them to create prompts and timers.

Hobbies and interests with dementia

People living with dementia can still maintain interests and hobbies for a long time as well as developing new ones.

How to support someone with dementia with their hobbies and interests

If you’re caring for someone with dementia, try to support their hobbies and interests. For example, they could:

  • make a meal with you, if they enjoy cooking
  • go for a walk with you or a friend
  • do some gardening
  • listen to music
  • play a board game
  • care for the family pet
  • continue to take part in sports like dancing or golf
  • go to the cinema or theatre

Inclusive activities for people with dementia

There is a dementia inclusive singing network that helps people affected by dementia take part in singing groups and choirs across Scotland.

Cinemas and theatres across Scotland have dementia inclusive showings and events.

There are sports networks that support people with dementia to continue to be active and take part in their chosen sport. For example, Walking Football Scotland.

Deepness radio is run by people living with dementia for people living with dementia. It offers lots of creative activities like its annual arts festival.

Eating and drinking with dementia

People with dementia can have food-related problems. This includes:

  • not recognising foods
  • not realising they feel hungry
  • forgetting what food they like
  • refusing or spitting out food
  • resisting help with eating
  • asking for strange food combinations

This behaviour can be caused by confusion or irritation in the mouth.

How to help someone with dementia with eating and drinking

If someone has dementia, it’s important they get a healthy, balanced diet and some exercise. The longer they stay fit and healthy, the better their quality of life will be.

Eating enough healthy foods helps avoid other problems like malnutrition. People with dementia can become more confused if they get ill.

As someone’s dementia advances, they might need support with eating and drinking.

Involve the person you care for

When giving someone food and drinks, you could try to involve them. For example, if they can’t feed themselves, you could put cutlery in their hand and help guide it to their mouth.

You could also involve them in preparing food, if they’re able to.

Try to stay calm

If you feel stressed at mealtimes, the person you care for will probably be stressed too. So, try to stay as calm as possible.

Make sure that you have plenty of time for meals as well. This means there’ll be less pressure on everyone during mealtimes.

Try to accommodate changes in eating habits

The person you care for may change their eating habits and patterns over time. Try to be aware of this and stay flexible. This will make mealtimes less stressful for both of you.

If someone loses interest in food or isn’t eating enough, read about how you can add extra calories to their diet.

Further help with eating problems

If you’d like advice or help with eating problems speak to your GP.

Sleep problems in dementia

People with dementia often have sleep problems. These problems may get worse as the illness progresses.

Dementia can affect your body clock. You may wake up during the night or be restless.

People with dementia can be affected by ‘sundowning’. Sundowning can include:

  • distress
  • hallucinations
  • agitation

Read more about sundowning on Alzheimer’s Society

If the person has other conditions like arthritis, these can also cause sleep problems.

Some medications can also interfere with sleep. They may cause sleepiness during the day and affect sleep at night.

How to help someone with sleep problems in dementia

Having a regular routine can help to improve sleep. This is sometimes called sleep hygiene.

Good sleep hygiene can include:

  • having no naps during the day
  • going to bed at a regular time each night
  • avoiding caffeine in the evening
  • avoiding alcohol before bed

More advice about how to sleep better

Further help and advice

Speak to your health or social care professional if you’re caring for someone with dementia and think they need help with day-to-day tasks.

An occupational therapist might be able to suggest changes to your home to help with your daily routine.

If you think the person you care for may have health or dental problems, get help from your GP or dentist.

Support groups for people with dementia and their carers

There are also dementia friendly communities throughout Scotland that organise activities for people living with dementia and their families.

You can also hear what others are going through. If there’s a particular issue you’re struggling with, it’s likely someone else has also experienced it.

Meeting Centres offer community based support for people living with dementia and their care partners.

The Dementia Friendly Communities Network shares support for and with people living with dementia and their care partners in their own community.

Age Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland both have networks of member community groups across Scotland.

You could also contact a local carers’ group to meet other people in similar situations.

Last updated:
27 May 2024