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Living well with Dementia

Dementia is a progressive illness of the brain resulting in the loss of functioning such as memory, reasoning, communication skills and activities in daily living.

The chances of developing dementia increase with age, but some people under the age of 65 develop this condition which in turn causes difficulties for their families and their employment. As the illness progresses people become more dependent on health and social care services.

Support from local services and organisations is available to help you.

The Older People's Mental Health Service offers a range of support, including:

  • Initial assessment of memory problems at the Memory Clinic
  • Medication for those who are eligible
  • Psychological support for patients and carers
  • Carers Education Course (six week course run two-three times a year) provides information about dementia, strategies to help carers relate to people with dementia, financial and legal advice about planning for the future
  • Therapeutic groups for dementia sufferers
  • Advice and information including signposting to other services
  • Crisis support - available 9am til 7pm week days, and 9am til 5pm week ends
  • Ongoing support and monitoring

For more information, contact the Adult Care team on 0118 937 3747

Older People's Mental Health Liaison Team

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust works with inpatients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital who need help to manage their mental health and help them to access appropriate ongoing care or treatment from mental health services. The service focuses on older people who:

  • have dementia or delirium
  • have an existing mental health problem and are currently in hospital with a physical illness
  • have been diagnosed with a physical illness and need some emotional support to adjust to this

They also provide support, information and advice to families and carers.

Contact the Older People’s Mental Health Liaison Team, Royal Berkshire Hospital, London Road, Reading, RG1 5AN. Call 0300 365 0300

Alzheimer's Society

Information and advice about living with and caring for someone with dementia. Visit or call the helpline on 0300 222 1122 

Alzheimer's Society Reading Branch

The Alzheimer’s Society offers people with dementia and their carers information and practical, emotional support by a Dementia Support Worker. They also facilitate services for people with dementia - activity group, a befriending service and Singing for the Brain (see related links on this page).

Please contact the Reading office on 0118 959 6482 for more information. or email

Page last reviewed / updated - 03/03/2021

Dementia Friendly Guide - the local response from Reading DAA

The Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) is a social movement with one simple aim: to bring about a society-wide response to dementia. It encourages and supports local communities and organisations to take practical action to enable people to live well with dementia.

Organisations, businesses and groups sign up as a member of the DAA by thinking of some simple steps that would make them more dementia friendly, and these steps form their action plan.

Members include local businesses, faith groups, schools, housing schemes, libraries, museums, shops, transport providers and health and social care providers. Anyone can help!

For more information and to find out how to become a member, please contact your local DAA Coordinator, Micheel Berry at

The Dementia Friendly Guide to Reading lists a number of local services and activities that people can access with their carers and friends.  You can also download the DAA guidance notes below for information.

Free online courses for carers of people with dementia: Reducing isolation and promote coping during current restrictions on social activities (COVID-19/Coronavirus)

In the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency situation and recent advice for people over 70, and those with serious health conditions to stop non-essential contact with others for 12 weeks, it is easy to see how carers of people living with dementia and their families may become socially isolated.

We feel that our free online course for carers of people with dementia may be a valuable resource in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.  Without the support of family, friends and social groups, carers may feel increasingly isolated and distressed. Our courses, Dementia care: Living well as dementia progresses  and Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well may be able to offer support during these uncertain and difficult times in two key ways:

1) Enable carers to stay connected to others.  This includes other carers who may be in a similar situation and also health and social care professionals who can also share advice or support.  Family, friends and neighbours may also find the courses useful to support carers if they are unable to visit in person.

2) Access useful tips and hints from our articles and videos on recognising their own support needs as carers and how to manage these.  The articles also signpost to a range of online resources and helplines which can provide further information and support.

In addition, with restrictions on formal education and training, and health and social care professionals also facing isolation restrictions, our courses could also be a helpful resource for practitioners and students.

The courses are both currently open.  We are currently exploring options to keep the courses open for longer and support as many people as possible.

We hope you can share the link to the course with as many people as possible. 

How can you help people living with Dementia and memory problems to understand, remember and follow the COVID 19 advice?

Tips to help your resident living with dementia and memory problems

  • Some people with dementia have difficulty understanding complex instructions about selfisolation or handwashing – keeping information simple, accessible and repeatable is key. Give the person time to process what you have said and respond
  • Use posters and reminders in the home. Pictures and words are best. Put them on the doors, next to the sink and in places that are regularly passed. Point out the poster and make a clear statement ‘We need to wash our hands’.
  • Keep communication as clear as possible and give positive instructions ‘Shall we go here?’ instead of ‘Don’t go there’.

  • Link washing hands with a song, music or story. Pay close attention to details such as how the water feels, the smell of the soap and memories linked to times when you wash hands (work, school, hospitals).

  • The person with dementia is likely to mirror your mood and behaviour. They will pick up on anxiety and panic.

    • Try to stay calm, smile, matter of fact and upbeat/positive when talking to them. Even If you are wearing a mask the person can see the smile in your eyes.

    • Limit access to the news, radio and conversations about covid-19 and the risks. This heightens anxiety and is hard to explain.

    • Keep the mood light and encourage.


  • If a person cannot be encouraged to remain in their room; -
    • Close other’s bedroom doors, unless this poses a risk, as they are less likely to open a closed door.
    • Can a portion of the unit be given over to them so they have the space to move around?
    • If you are trying to get the person to stop doing something (i.e. walking), you may have to walk with them and match their speed, then gradually change the rhythm or pattern rather than opposing them
    • Do they have access to individualised music in their room (such as Playlist for Life)?
    • Do they have access to a TV in their room and programmes on that do not need too much understanding of language? Be careful of having the news on or programmes with distressing content that they may interpret as real.
    • Do they have access to a DVD player and DVDs of familiar and favourite films, sports they like that they can watch in their room?


  • If relatives and friends visits are not able to visit or visiting is limited in the care home – try and encourage frequent phone calls, the use of technology (e.g. facetime or similar platforms) to help improve communication between families. 
  • People with dementia are much more prone to develop delirium (a confusional state), if they develop an infection. If you notice changes in levels of confusion or unusual behaviour. Seek medical advice if you think they are showing symptoms – NHS 111 or phone the GP. I
  • If you have any queries or require support with your resident/s, please contact the Care Home Mental Health Nurse via the Covid19 care home Advice line

Wokingham: 07824 456216

Reading: 07900 364206

West Berkshire: 07867 978349

Last updated: 30/04/2020

Reminiscence Radio - m4d Radio

m4d Radio is a group of 5 themed radio stations available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year playing music that evokes memories. 

You can choose an era and play your favourite tunes:

BAME Dementia - useful resources (Meri Yaadain)

Meri Yaadain is a not for profit Community Interest Group involved in supporting people with dementia and their families and carers. 

They have produced a number of useful resources to help raise awareness amongst BAME groups on the topic of dementia. 

Dementia Prevention in Mid-Life - Information for patients

This information has been prepared by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
and is for patients in mid-life, outlining ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia in later-life.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a progressive condition effecting a person’s brain and cognition, to the point where their ability to live without assistance day-to-day is impaired.  There are lots of different types of dementia, but the most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.

How common is dementia?

There are currently over 850,000 people living in the UK with dementia, and the number is rising.  It is most commonly diagnosed in people aged over 65, although it is possible to develop the condition earlier, where it is termed young onset dementia.

What causes dementia?

The different types of dementia have different underlying causes, but all lead to the loss of the cells and connections within the brain.  In Alzheimer’s dementia, for example, the cells die as a result of an abnormal build-up of protein, whereas in vascular dementia, the cells are damaged as the result of a loss of blood supply, such as in strokes or transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs).

What can I do to reduce my risk of developing dementia?

Although there are some forms of dementia which have underlying genetic causes, there is increasing evidence that lifestyle modifications in middle age can reduce your risk of developing dementia in older age.  Whilst the earlier a person makes these changes the better, it is never too late in life to make alterations.


Smoking can increase your risk of developing dementia by around 30-50%.  This is both as a direct result of toxin-induced oxidative stress and inflammation – which is associated with Alzheimer’s dementia – but also indirectly.  Smoking is associated with an increased risk of strokes and TIAs, which can lead to vascular dementia.  If you stop smoking, your overall risk of developing dementia gradually returns to that seen in people who have never smoked.  If you would like to try to stop smoking, there are support services available both at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, but also in the community.  For more information, you can visit:

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption in excess of 14 units/week can lead to an increased risk of dementia.  In the case of significant alcohol intake (>50 units/week for men, >35 units/week for women), this risk is heightened through alcohol-related brain damage.  As with smoking, this can be the direct result of the toxicity of alcohol, but also via indirect routes such as thiamine deficiency, or the increased risk of stroke and heart disease.  The provision of alcohol support services varies throughout the region, and your GP will be able to help direct you to appropriate help if you would like help with stopping drinking.

Physical Health

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and regular activity can reduce your risk of developing both dementia, and other conditions which can increase dementia risk such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, stroke, and heart disease.  Recommended weekly exercise levels are:

  • 150 minutes/week of moderate exercise such as brisk walking, or
  • 75 minutes/week of vigorous exercise such as running

Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is also important.  More advice on this can be found at:

 Keeping your mind active

There is increasing evidence that maintaining an active and stimulated brain can reduce your chances of developing dementia in future.  Being socially active and talking, playing or listening to music, board games and puzzles, all stimulate multiple areas of the brain and require concentration.  These activities are felt likely to help reduce your risk of dementia in future.

Is there anything else I can do?

Since other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension can lead to increased risks of stroke and heart disease, and – in turn – dementia, trying to ensure that these illnesses well-treated if present can be beneficial.  If you do not have these conditions, are aged between 40-74, then you should be invited to a health check with your GP every 5 years.  Attending these check-ups will increase the chance of early detection of any underlying illnesses, and hence early intervention to reduce the risk of future complications such as dementia.

You can also get further information on dementia from

The Alzheimer’s Society

Helpline: 0300 222 1122

Dementia UK

Telephone: 0207 6974160


Berkshire Age UK

Telephone: 0118 959 4242



Roya Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
London Road, Reading RG1 5AN

Telephone 0118 322 5111

 Written by: Dr Daniel Johnson

Date: July 2020


Dementia-Frequently Asked Questions

I am worried about my friend, he is deteriorating rapidly and seems more confused & agitated. What should I do they don’t appear to have a formal dementia diagnosis?

  • If the change is sudden please make an appointment with their GP. The appointment should be prioritised.
  • A telephone appointment to provide the GP with more information is a good starting point but if they require one please ask for a face to face appointment.
  • If out of hours or weekend advice is then go to NHS 111

If I cannot get through to my GP – what should I do? Call NHS 111 or visit 

My Mum was diagnosed with dementia a long time ago and we were given leaflets and information at the time.  She seems to be getting worse and it’s been a long time since we last saw her GP, what do I do?

Sudden Change

  • If the change is sudden please make an appointment with their GP. The appointment should be prioritised.
  • A telephone appointment to provide the GP with more information is a good starting point but if they require one please ask for a face to face appointment.
  • If out of hours or weekend advice is then go to NHS 111

If I cannot get through to my GP – what should I do? Call NHS 111 or visit

Progressive Change

  • Symptoms of dementia do worsen over time. 
  • Please speak to your Dementia Care Advisor who will be able to look at what your Dad needs.
  • If you do not wish to use the Dementia Care Advisor or there is an evident need for a change in personal care you can refer them (or they can refer themselves) into the Adult Social Care team at your Local Authority so they can conduct a new Care Assessment for your Dad.

The doctor told me I had been referred to the memory clinic but I haven’t heard from them - who do I contact ?

  • Please check the letter you received from the Memory Clinic, this should outline their expected waiting time.
  • If you have not received a letter please do call the memory clinic for an update.
  • If the Memory Clinic haven’t received your referral, please follow up by calling your GP.

I am a carer for my husband who has a diagnosis of dementia and I am really struggling, I need a break.  How do I access care?

  • Please telephone the Carers UK support line on 0808 808 7777 or navigate to for more information.
  • You can refer yourself to the Social Care Team at your Local Authority for a carers assessment (you are entitled to this under the Care Act) and that may result in additional support.
  • If there is a need for a change to the personal care for your husband then please refer him to the same Social Care Team at the Local Authority for a new Care Assessment.
  • Please make sure the level of urgency is made clear to the Local Authority.

The Department of Work and Pensions can’t come and visit me at home due to the current restrictions how do I get my benefits assessed?

  • Please continue to work with the Department of Work and Pensions as your claim will be backdated to when you first applied
  • You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more general information, Age UK Berkshire Information and Advice service or use the Turn2Us benefit assessment tool online

How do I get a Capacity Assessment or arrange a Power Of Attorney during the current restrictions?

  • Please call The Alzheimer’s Society national helpline on 0333 150 3456.  They will be able to advise you further.
  • Fact sheets are available from both Age UK Berkshire and The Alzheimer’s society if you would like more information.

How will I access Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy, or Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and when will they be back up and running?

  • Occupational Therapy & Speech and Language Therapy – Please go to your GP who will know best to who to refer too for help.  They will also be able to provide a timeframe.
  • Cognitive Stimulation Therapy – Please go back to the memory clinic for information on how to book.

Where does my Mum go when there is no one to care for them and I live abroad?

  • If your Mum needs a change to her current personal care then we would advise her to refer herself (or you can refer her) into the Local Authority Adult Social Care team for a new Care Act assessment.  Please make sure the level of urgency is made clear to the Local Authority
  • Please also speak with your local Dementia Care Adviser if she has already received a diagnosis of dementia.

What services or groups are still running in my area?

  • Please check your local Council directories.  Please speak with the organisation listed as running the activity and check whether it is still running due to the latest COVID advice.
  • Alternatively, you could use the Alzheimer’s society’s dementia directory:

Useful Telephone numbers of support services across Berkshire West

Age UK Berkshire  0118 959 4242

The Alzheimer’s Society 0333 150 3456

Younger People With Dementia (YPWD) 0118 207 2880

Citizens Advice Bureau Advice Line 0800 144 8848

Carers UK Support Line 0808 808 7777                               


West Berkshire

Adult Social Care                                       01635 503050

Memory Clinic                                           01635 292070


Adult Social Care                                       0118 937 3747

Memory Clinic                                           0118 960 5959             


Adult Social Care                                       0300 365 1234

Memory Clinic                                           0118 949 5000


Dementia-Recommended activities

If you are struggling to find activities for a person with dementia to do online please see the below recommendations.




Run By


Description & Link

House of Memories


Liverpool Museum

My House of Memories app allows you to explore objects from the past and share memories together. It can be used by anyone, but has been designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their carers.  Download is free.

Virtual Museum Tour

British Museum


Virtual tours of the museum divided by topic from the comfort of your own home.


Gardening Activities


A series of free downloadable worksheets for gardening activities suitable for people with dementia

Online Jigsaw Puzzles



A series of jigsaw puzzles ranging in difficulty that can be done online

Online Colouring


The Colour


A range of colouring sheets that can be done online - they can even be printed to be shared with friends and family.

Online Games


Trivia Plaza


A range of trivia and games that can be accessed online.

Seated Exercises


British Gymnastics Foundation


A range of seated exercises that has been specifically designed for people living with dementia.






Run By


Description & Link

The ‘D’ Word

UK Health Radio

The ‘D’ Word is the UK’s only dementia based radio show. Talking to experts and people living with dementia presenter Pete Hill aims to raise the profile of the condition that affects 50 million across the globe.

Two Cups of Tea

Chris Heath

The host talks to a different guest each week about their life story.


Desert Island Discs




Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

You Must Remember This



Take a step back in time to the golden years of Hollywood – focussing on forgotten or secret stories from this era


Online Religious Services



Different religious services from a number of faiths


Audio Books


Calibre Audio


Loaning free audio books via either - streaming, USB or CD - all services are free of charge:


Music Streaming

Playlist for Life


Website specifically designed for people living with dementia.  Playlists can be made of most loved and meaningful songs.


Music Memories




This website is designed to use music to help people reconnect with their most powerful memories. Evidence shows that music can help people - including those living with dementia - to feel and live better. Create a playlist and take part in our survey to help us discover the nation’s favourite music memories.