A person with dementia may feel depressed because: –
If they are in the early stages and have only recently been
diagnosed they will worried about how the condition will affect them in the
future, and may feel that their life has been taken from them.
Depression can be caused because the person feels they have no
control over their future
They can feel depressed through isolation, not getting help when
needed or the support they need.
Depression is often
associated with loss of personal independence, not being able to drive or leave
their house on their own
Depression is also caused by the way the person is treat by
others, especially family, as family can be to be too caring and attempt to
wrap the person up in cotton wool. Stopping them from doing things, from taking
risks, from making decisions, and by not consulting the individual in their
future care plans.
Depression can affect someone’s life, it can lead to self-harm,
and thoughts of suicide, to taking your own life.
Due to depression mimicking signs and symptoms of dementia, it
can be wrongly thought that the dementia is getting worse, and the wrong
medication be given.
Depression can lead to someone being withdrawn and isolation, it
can stop someone from socialising and engaging in stimulating activities, or
taking medication which can help slow down the onset of dementia.
It is important that the root cause of depression is found to
help give the person the correct treatment to alleviate the symptoms. As unlike
dementia depression can be cured through medication, cognitive therapy and/or
One-way staff can help support a person with depression is to be
patient, to allow the person to talk when they are ready to talk. Basic
non-judgemental human contact, such as holding a hand, smiling and being
available to listen, is important, never saying “things like pull yourself
Staff should listen to what the person describes without being
critical or thinking they are weak. Staff should never give advice such as
‘just cheer up’ or ‘pull yourself together’. Staff should avoid getting into an
argument with the person.
People with depression sometimes feel so overwhelmed and
helpless about their life, the future appears hopeless.
Staff should engage the person in conversation about how they
are feeling and let them describe why they are feeling this way.
Staff should ask the person if they are having thoughts of
suicide. If they are, find out if they have a plan for suicide. This is not a
bad question to ask someone who is suffering from depression. It is important
to find out if he/she is having these thoughts to refer him/her for help
Staff can give encouragement to get involved in gentle exercise
can release positive endorphins to help them feel better.
Staff can help by encouraging a client to change their
environment, either by going outside and getting fresh air, or encouraging
participation in social events,
Staff should provide hope for the person and talk about a good
outcome for that person.
Staff can tell the person that he/she has an illness that can be
treated, let them know that you want to help, and encourage the person to get appropriate professional help.
One reason that a person living with dementia may become angry
is because they may know that they are losing their personal identity, ability
to remember family, friends. Feeling unsafe or insecure leads to frustration
and fear. Night times (darkness) and unfamiliar faces often trigger insecurity
and may lead to resistance or aggression or a lack of co-operation
They may be in undiagnosed pain, but not able to communicate
this condition. Unmet pain and discomfort relief may quickly lead to a sense of
frustration and a sense that no-one cares.
They may feel angry at God, for giving them this type of
condition, and their religious beliefs may be challenged.
They may feel angry as their needs not being met, they are
bored, hungry, thirsty or scarred. A lack of respect and dignity especially
when providing personal care and toileting needs, or poor levels of care
suggests we assume the individual either doesn’t realise or won’t complain.
This leads to frustration and annoyance by the client and these are well
documented as triggers of challenging behaviour. When our self-respect is
violated frustration, anger, embarrassment increases, and self-esteem falls
leading to a lack of co-operation from the individual
They may feel angry due to their failing ability to complete
common simple tasks, such as personal care, dressing or being able to use a
knife and fork. Clients with dementia are frequently inactive because of their
limited ability, but when they do try and do things we often try and stop them.
Stimulation is essential to our psychological wellbeing and under stimulation
quickly leads to boredom and frustration.