Creating a dementia-friendly funeral

Network She Dementia friendly funeral Llandudno

In the UK, there are currently around 900,000 people with dementia, and this is set to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040*. With September being World Alzheimer’s Month, Network She Diamond Member Kelly Owen has shared some information on how they are helping their clients as a Dementia Friend.


What is dementia?

Dementia describes a set of symptoms caused by different diseases that damage the brain. The symptoms can include:

  • memory loss;
  • confusion;
  • problems with language and understanding;
  • changes in behaviour.

There are many types of dementia, however Alzheimer’s is the most common.


Should a person living with dementia be included in the funeral arrangements?

We believe that it is possible to include someone living with dementia in the funeral arrangements and for them to attend the funeral. Dementia affects everyone differently and it’s important to determine  the level of support they will need. We have found, from undertaking our training with Dementia Friends, that people may forget facts and names but they won’t forget emotions tied to events.


It is important to ask the person with dementia to share their memories or give song choice suggestions, so they are included in the organising.


How do you organise a funeral with someone living with dementia?

As Funeral Directors, we work closely with the person conducting the service and those arranging the funeral. We will listen to the needs and wishes of the person living with dementia and will offer appropriate and sensitive choices. We will always adapt our approach based on the circumstances when communicating with someone living with dementia, to ensure they understand what is being discussed. To help with this, we may:

  • speak slowly;
  • use short sentences;
  • use plain English and don’t use euphemisms;
  • repeat the question as often as needed;
  • make eye contact when talking;
  • use body language to emphasise what has been said.


We would usually encourage to meet at the home to keep the meeting relaxed, and allow the person living with dementia to have triggers that will help such as photos and music to hand. We also find it helps to have someone in attendance that can support and perhaps take notes, to refer back to after the initial meeting.


Should a person living with dementia attend a funeral?

The Alzheimer’s Society suggest the person living with dementia shouldn’t be protected from the truth that someone has died. They recommend using body language to express sadness, hold their hand and provide comfort if they need it and to read sympathy cards together.


At the funeral service, it can help to see the service sheet with a photo included of the person that has died. They may find being supported by someone they know helps.


* Source.


Article supplied by Network She Diamond Member Kelly Owen


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