Communicating with someone living with dementia

With 91% of people in the UK affected by dementia in some way, we know that it can also affect everyone differently. That’s why it is so important to communicate in a way that is right for the person; it’s about thinking about the way that we say things, as well as the actual words that we use. All these things can make a difference, good and bad, on that person.

We must also think about our body language and facial expressions when we communicate with someone living with dementia. It can be so difficult for them to get their point across and emotions like frustration or annoyance, can easily show in how we hold ourselves, despite the words we are saying.

It seems like a simple thing to remember, but in the heat of the moment, it can sometimes be the first thing we forget. If you are caring for someone living with dementia, don’t forget we have other tips and hints, in this article.

With tips and hopefully helpful hints in mind, here is how you can make the communication experience with someone living with dementia a more positive one.

Making them feel comfortable

Seems simple right? However, you need to make sure that you are in a good place to communicate. It should ideally be quiet and calm, with good lighting, as somewhere busy or with distractions like the radio or TV can make it harder for them to concentrate on you and what you’re trying to ask them.

You can also:

  • Think about whether there is a time of day where the person can communicate more clearly and, use this time to ask any questions or talk about anything you need to
  • Make the most of ‘good’ days where the person is able to communicate more freely and find ways to adapt on more difficult days to help them to recall a particular word or item, such as asking them to describe it
  • Make sure that their needs are met before you start, for example checking that they are not in pain or hungry
  • Plan enough time to spend with the person, if you feel rushed or stressed, take some time to pause and breathe beforehand.

How to communicate

Having a conversation is the easiest thing in the world to do, but someone living with dementia may find holding a dialogue with one person, let alone multiple people, more and more difficult.

  • Think about how you might feel if you struggled to communicate with loved ones and what would help you
  • Use short, simple sentences and if they become tired, try shorter and more regular conversations where possible
  • Don’t talk to the person as like they are a child – be patient and respectful
  • Keep it conversational and not just ask question after question, as this could be quite tiring or frustrating if they struggle to answer
  • If there are other people in the room, include the person n the conversation as much as you can. Don’t speak as though they are not there; including them can make them feel valued and less isolated
  • Avoid shouting or speaking sharply as this can be intimidating or frightening

Your body language

Verbal communication is a big part of our lives, but how we use non-verbal communication like facial expressions or body language, can also influence how we come across to others.

  • Stand or sit where the person can see and hear you as clearly as possible – this is usually in front of them, with your face well-lit. Try to be at eye level instead of standing over them
  • Get as close as you can that is comfortable for you both, so that it is easy to hear one another and make eye contact as you would with anyone
  • Prompts can help, like pointing at a photo of someone or encouraging the person to interact with an object you are talking about
  • Try and keep your body language open and relaxed

While we have covered the importance of keeping things positive, being kind and respectful, as well as remembering that someone living with dementia will have good days and bad days, there are also things we should avoid saying or doing.

The Alzheimer’s Society has come up with seven things to avoid saying such as ‘Remember when…?’ or ‘Do you recognise me?’, and instead offer things you can try instead. You can find that article here.

Caring for someone with dementia

When someone close to you gets diagnosed with dementia, it can be difficult for them – and you – to know where to start when it comes to care.

It’s about balancing the ability to live independently for as long as possible, with knowing when to help as a loved one and, when it’s time to seek help from professionals. You can only do so much and everyone who cares for someone with dementia will need help at some stage, by focusing on what you can do, it means that you can seek the support you need for those things you can’t do. There is no shame in asking for help and there are organisations out there who can offer advice.

It seems obvious, but caring for someone living with dementia can have a big impact on your mental and physical health, as well as your overall wellbeing. It’s why you have to take time for yourself, because as a carer you will feel a wide range of emotions and by taking time out, it will give you the space you need to understand why you feel that way and accept that these emotions – frustration, exhaustion, relief, guilt – are all a normal reaction to what might be a very difficult situation.

Here are some hopefully useful tips on how you can care for someone with dementia.

Helping with everyday tasks

In the early stages of dementia, many people can enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis. However, as symptoms get worse, that person may start to feel anxious, stressed and scared at not being able to remember things, follow conversations or concentrate on a particular task.

That’s why it's important to support that person to maintain their skills, abilities, and an active social life. This can also help how they feel about themselves.

You can help them by letting the person help you with everyday tasks such as:

  • shopping
  • laying the table
  • gardening
  • taking the dog for a walk
  • involving them in preparing the meal (if they’re able to)

You can also place memory aids used around the home can help the person remember where things are. For example, you could put labels and signs on cupboards, drawers, and doors.


As the dementia progresses, sometimes mealtimes can become more stressful and can cause anxiety and frustration for the person and their carer(s). Try these tips to make mealtimes more enjoyable and take the pressure off:

  • set aside enough time for meals
  • offer food you know they like, and in smaller portions
  • be prepared for changes in food tastes – try stronger flavours or sweeter foods
  • provide finger foods if the person struggles with cutlery
  • offer fluids in a clear glass or coloured cup that's easy to hold

We know that everyone will experience caring in their own way, as dementia is a personal journey for those living with it and those who care for them. There will be days when you feel you can cope, and other days when you feel like you can’t do one more day. That’s OK. It’s a normal response to what it means to care for someone, especially a loved one. Many other carers will be feeling these same emotions and it’s very important not to be ashamed about you feel.

It's why you can reach out to The Alzheimer's Society, who have dementia advisers who are there to help. You can call them on 0333 150 3456. You can also find local support groups on social media or in your community hubs like a library, as just being able to talk to someone who is going through the same thing as you can help ease some of those emotions.

Don’t think you are a carer yet? Well, you can take a look at the Carer’s Checklist from Age UK which can be found here. It’ll also give you information on support available such as carer’s allowance and how to work with GP surgeries etc.

Plus, we’re also here to help. We can provide you with advice on housing, welfare support and financial support that is out there to ease the burden, even in a small way. Just contact our team at the office.

Seven Welsh housing associations form consortium to combine expertise to support their communities

The consortium is a collaboration between seven Welsh housing associations, with all of us seeking to combine our resources, expertise and experience to improve the quality and capability of projects, so that we can all continue to provide excellent services in our communities.

The associations involved are:

  • Newydd Housing Association
  • Cadwyn Housing Association
  • First Choice Housing Association
  • Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association
  • Cynon Taf Community Housing Group
  • RHA Wales Group Ltd
  • Caredig Housing Association

As like-minded community RSLs (registered social landlords), we all share common values and goals, but we also face similar challenges when it comes to key areas in procurement, health and safety, assets and legal, as well as consistency in how we communicate with our communities, as we share not just counties, but sometimes even streets.

With the Welsh Government putting the Renting Homes Wales Act 2016 (RHWA) into effect in December 2022, we recognised the benefits of collaboration in being able to communicate the changes to the contracts with staff, as well as with tenants in the right way at the right time.

Together, we were able to procure a consortium contract with Blake Morgan Solicitors, who provided specialist legal services required to implement the RHWA across our organisations and communities. The contract included the drafting of the new occupation contracts, staff training and bespoke advice. This approach ensured that all our staff were able to ask questions of the legal experts on what the Act meant for specialist areas such as supported housing, as well as understand how the new legislation gave enhanced rights to tenants.

We also share a Project Manager, who is hosted by Cynon Taf, and has supported the consortium through:

  • Managing the contract with Blake Morgan and ensuring spend on legal services was coordinated and value for money.
  • Co-ordinating the sharing of knowledge and best practice across the Consortium by organising and chairing specialist leads meetings and managing leads projects.
  • Several specialist groups were set up to support the relevant changes:
    • Steering Group
    • Housing
    • Repairs and Assets Management
    • Supported Accommodation
    • IT
    • Comms

What we’ve achieved so far…

RHWA was implemented successfully across our organisations, which is down to the hard work of the teams in the seven RSLs, but also because of the shared project management, a comprehensive implementation plan and effective risk management that was delivered through the consortium. The sharing of resources and costs ensured that all our policies and procedures reflected the changes set out by Welsh Government.

By sharing legal advice associated with housing management, as well as the new fitness for human habitation (FFHH) implications, it meant that across the seven of us, there is a consistent approach and each of our teams involved know and understand how to manage the post Act challenges that we may come across.

We also ensured that throughout the preparation for RHWA implementation, as well as the months that have followed, that we were able to pool our communications resources – being able to access resources such as graphic design and content writing, as well as strategic outcomes – to provide consistent information to our communities on what the new Act meant for them.

Plans for the future

 The success of the consortium in RHWA delivery has meant that the collaboration has been extended for the foreseeable future, which is a testament to the work that everyone involved has put in to ensure its success. It also shows the difference that partnership working can have when it comes to key business areas and delivering best practice.

Over the coming months, we will be working on projects including:

  • Investing in communications campaigns that will support our communities with:
    • Dealing with damp, mould and condensation
    • The ongoing cost-of-living crisis
    • Affordable warmth
    • Understanding decarbonisation
  • Consideration of shared procurement of legal services

We will also continue to share resources, skills, experience, performance and benchmarking information, as well as best practice.

It's time to act on dementia

Dementia. It is a scary word. It is something that none of us want to hear, whether for ourselves or our loved ones. However, 91% of people living in the UK are affected by dementia. That’s approximately 60m people… when you let that sink in for a moment, you understand why it is so important that we are able to increase diagnosis rates, to be able to understand the difference between getting old and getting ill, so that we are able to support people in the right way.

People often start to forget things more as they get older. Most often this is a normal sign of ageing. But for someone with dementia, changes will be different, more serious and will affect their life more.

It is why we take dementia seriously. We are a dementia friendly status organisation, so that our staff, especially those working with our tenants and communities, have the knowledge and skills to be able to spot symptoms and also, provide advice where needed. The Alzheimer’s Society found that there is a misconception around memory loss just being part of getting old, but their research found being in denial, and referral times to specialists, are big barriers for those experiencing symptoms to seek a diagnosis in the first place.

There are so many reasons why our memories can sometimes let us down, at all ages. Stress and anxiety can be a common factor, as well as depression, so being forgetful doesn’t mean that it is the early signs of having dementia. There could be other causes and more likely, easily treatable.

So, what are the normal signs of ageing?

Most of us are lucky enough to live into our retirement and old age, but also many continuing to thrive well into their 70s, 80s and even 90s. However, we all know that as we get older, we are more likely to notice some changes in our mental abilities such as:

  • becoming a little more forgetful
  • taking a bit longer to remember things
  • getting distracted more easily
  • finding it harder to do several things at once.

This may become noticeable particularly from middle age – usually meaning our 40s, 50s and early 60s. Though these changes can be frustrating, they are a natural part of ageing. Many people worry that these are early signs of dementia, but for most people, this is not the case.

How is dementia different?

Dementia is a group of symptoms and it’s caused by different diseases that damage the brain.

The symptoms of dementia get worse over time and include:

  • memory loss
  • confusion and needing help with daily tasks
  • problems with language and understanding
  • changes in behaviour.

Talking to your GP

Dementia can only be diagnosed by a qualified health professional, so taking the first step and talking to your GP can seem like a mountain to climb, as just even asking the question – could this be dementia – isn’t something that will come easily to any of us. It could be that you are asking the question on behalf of a loved one. However, you can read through the symptoms checklist that has been created by the Alzheimer’s Society to help with that first step.

You can also watch the video on the top tips for talking to your GP…

Have the Last Draught with our damp and mould top tips

No one likes to see damp or mould patches in their home. When we go to open your front or back door and there's condensation on the handle, it's not what you expect! However, these are things that occur in homes up and down the country. So we have decided to have #TheLastDraught on all things damp, mould and condensation.

What do we even mean by damp, mould and condensation?

Did you know that mould is caused by damp and damp is caused by condensation? All three are linked to how you can keep your home safe, warm and ventilated. Damp refers to the presence of moisture and water in your home. It can easily occur without warning and it can have an effect on the structure of your home, as well as impact on your health if not treated. Condensation occurs when the air and/or your surfaces are cold and when moisture in the air is high - like when you have a hot shower and don't open a window, you get steamy wet windows.

Where is a lack of air movement, like in corners, on or near windows or behind furniture and cupboards, this can cause condensation which leads to damp patches and can eventually lead to mould.

Signs you have damp in your home

  • Musty smell: A damp room has a musty, distinctive scent. As soon as you open a door you won't be able to mistake it.
  • Wall marks: Dark marks on the wall are all signs that you could have damp. Damp can also manifest as discoloured plaster, caused by moisture in the wall.
  • Lifting or peeling wallpaper: If you find your wallpaper is curling away from the wall, this is likely to be caused by internal moisture, a sign of damp.
  • Cold walls: If your internal walls are cold to touch this could be a sign of damp forming. Internal walls should be warm and dry to touch if there is no moisture trapped in them.
  • Excessive condensation on windows: Condensation around windows is common in winter. However, an excessive amount that never seems to clear is a sign that you could have damp.

It's why we have pulled together some top tips on what you can do to try and reduce the amount of damp and mould in your homes.

Tips for reducing condensation and damp

  • Let air flow through home by opening windows wherever possible
  • If you have a shower, then open the window and close the bathroom door
  • Cover your saucepan with its lid when cooking
  • Wipe down your windows and their sills in the mornings as it stops damp / mould from building up
  • Open your curtains and blinds during the day to warm rooms up naturally and prevent moisture being trapped around the windows.
  • Each morning, pull back bed covers to allow moisture to escape rather than trapping it by making your bed straight away
  • If you’ve no choice but to dry clothes indoors, place them on a clothes horse (not a radiator) near an open window or in a room with an extractor fan.

Tips for getting rid of mould in your home

  • You can make your own spray! Mix four parts water and one part bleach and put into a spray bottle. Gently wipe the mould until it disappears using a moist cloth. When finished, use a soft cloth to thoroughly dry the area.

Did you know that it costs just 10p a week to run your extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom?

We know that times aren't easy for many of our community, with energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis continuing to have an effect on the money in our pockets. We are responsible for making sure that your home is safe and can keep you warm, by servicing your boilers for example, but we are unable to cover the costs of heating. However, we are here to help you keep your home warm through other methods such as financial support through government schemes. By working together, we can ensure that dampness and mould are avoided.

We have a dedicated page all about how we can work together to ensure your home is fit for human habitation under the Renting Homes Wales Act.

While it's doubtful that all issues will be resolved straight away and at times, more than one visit to your house will be necessary, we will work with you to make sure that this fits with your schedule and that we keep you informed at every stage.

It really is time to have #TheLastDraught and look out for more hints and tips on our social media pages!