Explaining to Children and Friends
You may wonder how to explain about dementia to children. The Alzheimer's Society factsheet Explaining to children gives some tips on how to address this. The Family and Friends factsheet can offer some ideas. A number of books are also available. An excellent title you can view online, and print off if desired, is The milk's in the oven (PDF format, 824KB); it gives a realistic view of what it's like to be a child or young person who knows someone who has dementia. The Selfish Pig's Guide to Caring by Hugh Marriott (published by Polperro Heritage Press) gives a down to earth and sometimes humorous view of the role of carers.
For more information geared to children and young people, and details of how to access Young Carers services please see our page for Children and Young People.
Those who have friends with dementia may find the Alzheimer Scotland downloadable book "I'll get by with a little help from my friends" useful.
Family, Friends and Neighbours
Supporting a person with dementia can be stressful and demanding. To achieve the best possible quality of life for the younger person and their partners and family, it is essential to seek help early on. If possible make a conscious decision to share the responsibility for supporting the person with dementia with other members of the family, friends or neighbours.
Each member of the family is likely to experience different feelings arising from contact with young onset dementia. The nature of the previous relationship between the family and the person with young onset dementia often affects the ability of all concerned to cope. Relationships, roles and behaviour will shift and change as the dementia progresses. The family's ability to adapt will be fundamental to whether they cope.
Many people take on a caring role from love or duty or because there are no alternatives. Whatever the reason for caring, it is vital that the primary carer has as much help and support as possible. Social isolation, stress and poor physical health can add to the burden. Taking a break, sharing the care responsibility and linking with other carers for mutual support can contribute to coping with dementia.
Understanding why a person with dementia finds it increasingly difficult to look after themselves is a key to how family and friends cope. It may be useful to read about other people's personal experience of dementia. Children and teenagers in particular may find it difficult to accept that their father or mother has dementia. The social services care manager, and CPN's can also offer support to the family.
It is useful to make trusted neighbours aware of the situation so that they can be called upon for support or at least can keep a protective eye on the person with dementia. Keeping neighbours and friends informed helps them keep in contact with the person and avoid the fear that arises through ignorance. It may also be useful to consider informing the local police and perhaps shopkeepers close to home.
Young Dementia Family Support Service
The YoungDementia UK has dedicated Family Support Workers who offer information, and practical and emotional support, to those in a caring role. This service aims to equip partners and families with the confidence and tools to enable them to live well with the younger person with dementia.