How others are affected by memory and thinking problems

  • They may need to remind you of things you need to do, or point out if things are going wrong, or help you more than they used to.

  • They may need to take on more of the day-to-day tasks if you are struggling with them (or not up to them at all).

  • They may struggle to understand why you are having difficulties, or why you seem more forgetful, or slower. They may even misunderstand and think that perhaps you are ‘not trying’ or ‘getting lazy’!)

  • They may not be able to accurately estimate your abilities – they may think you can do things you can’t at the moment, or they may think you can do all the same things you used to.

  • They may be feeling frustrated or annoyed about the changes that have happened.

  • They may experience more stress associated with having increased responsibility.

  • They may be feeling sad about the changes that have taken place.

  • They may worry about you and/or how things might be in the future.

  • However, as we have made clear trying to conceal problems is not helpful, and if anything is likely to lead to both you and people around you feeling more stressed. The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ really applies here – we often fear most the things we don’t understand or only know a little about, so opening up and talking things through can be extremely helpful, reduce stress and arguments, and lead to better solutions.

  • Although people around you are also impacted by the problem, the good news is that they can also be an important source of support.

How others can help

  • Give the person you are trying to help plenty of time.

  • Ask if they would like any help, or what sort of help (e.g. if trying to remember a word, would they like a clue or would they prefer you guess?)

  • Don’t ‘jump in’ too quickly – although this is usually meant kindly it can be horrible to be on the receiving end of this!

  • Perhaps try working through a difficult task together rather than them taking over completely.

  • Notice when things are done well as well as when mistakes are made.

  • Offer prompts if you can (though be careful and try to work out the best style that works for you both, as this can be seen as interfering, or cause embarrassment).

  • Try out different ways of helping, and talk about what has worked well and what has worked less well so you can, over time, develop the style that’s right for you both.

  • Read through this information together and see if you can find ideas you’d like to try out.

  • Keep talking!

How you can help others

  • Try to think about things from their perspective.

  • Encourage them to take some time for themselves – everyone needs a break, and new caring responsibilities can be really difficult to cope with.

  • Take time to plan together and share out the tasks you need to get done according to each other’s strengths and needs as they are at the moment. It might also be helpful to plan in enjoyable activities together as well as the things you ‘need’ to get done – it’s so easy to lose sight of these things when you are struggling, but it’s really important to keep them in mind and MAKE time for them!