Friends, colleagues and neighbours can make a difference

Understand Together aims to show that by standing together, we can help build a movement to forge inclusive communities for people with dementia, carers, families and friends.

We want to encourage individual people, communities and neighbourhoods, local shops and service providers, businesses and other organisations to take small practical steps, so that together we can build compassionate communities and provide vital social support to people experiencing dementia.
We are building upon initiatives which are already in place, creating a national movement that harnesses Ireland’s strong sense of community and kinship to improve the lives of those touched by dementia

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How can you help people with dementia and their families?

  1. First of all - find out more about dementia, it will help a lot.

At the moment in Ireland, 1 in every 2 of of us knows someone with dementia, but only 1 in every 4 of us feels we know much about what dementi a is.  We also know that lots of people are afraid or a little embarrassed to offer to help, or fearful that they might be intruding.  

People who have dementia and their family members often say that they feel lonely or isolated from their circle of friends and family. If we all learn a bit more about dementia, it would make us more confident to visit, keep in touch, keep active in our relationships. Life doesn't end when dementia begins, and people can live well at home for a long time, especially if they have a good support network.

Read and learn more about dementia here.

2. Keeping in touch makes all the difference

Living well with dementia involves some important steps, and you might be able to help with a few simple ones - keeping up our social life, getting some exercise, and keeping our brain active.  If you know someone with dementia, whether it's someone close, or a neighbour that you see from time to time, or maybe a member of your GAA or golf club, saying hello, stopping for a chat regularly, visiting them for a cup of tea and a talk, or arranging to go for a walk or to a match.  While it might sound normal to many people, we know that with dementia, sometimes simple contacts like these can slip away, and it might be your small decision to keep in touch that helps someone stay well and have a better day.  

3. Caring for Carers

There are over 180,000 people in Ireland who have cared for someone with dementia, and their experience can be both very rewarding, and very difficult.  You can help people that you know who are close to or caring for someone with dementia - just by understanding more, asking them how they are. You can help them by calling and visiting. 

You can also help by offering to give them a break from their routine, and people have told us that even being able to take half an hour to themselves would often be a welcome gesture.  You could invite your friend or neighbour with dementia for a short walk, a shopping trip, or call over to play cards or watch a film or listen to some music. If you do this at a regular or planned time, it could allow a carer to take a break, catch up on sleep or shopping, meet a friend for coffee.