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How can I help?


Registered User
Dec 26, 2015

While we have known that the symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia have been progressing in my nana for a number of years now, she has just recently had a formal diagnosis. She does not like it, while so relies so much on my grandpa for day to day support she often blamed him and my mum for organising the whole diagnosis and 'conspiring' against her.

It is getting emotionally more straining and difficult for mum and especially grandpa, always one to want to help, nana gets increasingly frustrated if you do not give her a job to to or while she stays in your house, if you can't think of something easy and straight forward she feels hurt and useless.

Having felt like she has been grieving the loss of her mum and the strong bond they had, it is becoming hard for my mum now. I see mum getting increasingly frustrated with nana and it becomes a vicious circle of frustration and anger, has anyone got any experience of this or ways to help?

Thank you for reading x


Registered User
May 21, 2014
First of all, here's a link to the compassionate communication article, that should be read by everyone trying to deal with someone with dementia:

Secondly, have a stash of tea towels handy and give her them to fold. Tell her how grateful you are for helping you - it doesn't matter whether it's just a task to keep her occupied. She's losing her identity - make her feel useful again. Anything she can do, folding laundry, laying the table, stirring a pot...


Registered User
Jul 18, 2015
Surrey, UK
If you are sitting down to eat a meal with her, ask her to lay the table. My MIL does this every time me and my OH bring a dinner to her and FIL. Simple, repetitive, relatively safe tasks are the best!


Registered User
Dec 26, 2015
Thank you, what a powerful article, I will definitely pass it on to mum too.

We have tried a number of those things and nana was delighted to help prepare the veg for yesterday's Christmas dinner and help with the ironing, I'm grateful that they are things she is still able to do.

I think I beat myself up when I get frustrated at her constant asking the question 'what can I do to help?' I know she just wants to help as she always has done and it is a case of finding thins she is happy and content doing and understanding that there are not always jobs to be done, that she deserves some time to sit and relax with her feet up x


Registered User
Jun 15, 2015
I agree with what others have said. My mother lives with us, she's 89 with vascular dementia and always wants to help (she always did everything in the home and was a very good cook). She isn't very stable standing up and has little dexterity and poor vision. Most nights she lays the table (we have to cope with random cutlery some time but that's OK) and often prepares the vegetables. If I get everything out for her at lunchtime she makes her own sandwich. She wants to feel useful and I do try to think things for her to do that are safe

We try to casually supervise things. Recently we found her trying to make tea (we have a small travel kettle next to the big one which she says she can't lift). She hadn't boiled the water and didn't know whether she'd put tea of coffee in the mug although it was ground coffee and she'd put masses in and added cold water.


Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
I agree with Rodelinda
My Ma was happiest when contributing , aren't we all. we all need to be needed. We would also casually supervise. In fact until the end she used to stuff envelopes for me for mailings, and we often had to do them again but hey! She loved it and felt she was really a part of things.

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