With around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia this Christmas, there will almost certainly be people in your own community who are affected. Whilst Christmas can be a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, for all too many dementia sufferers, it can be a very isolating, worrying time of the year.

Alongside all the changes brought about by decorations, noise and lights, those living with dementia are frequently ostracised, with two thirds saying they have received fewer invitations to social gatherings since their diagnosis. All too often a lack of understanding and worries about behaviour will leave those living with dementia alone, unwelcome and isolated. 

Become a friend to those living with dementia this Christmas with our top tips to help you support those affected in your community. 

· Know the badge 

The Dementia Friends badge is a blue and yellow forget-me-not flower, and a symbol of people who understand and are willing to help those living with dementia. When affected people go shopping or out and about, they know they can look for the badge to ask for assistance. Retailers like M&S, Barclays, Homebase and Argos have trained Dementia Friends in store, who are ready to help anyone who becomes overwhelmed or confused. 

· Wear the badge 

To really add comfort to those with dementia in your community, why not learn about dementia yourself and wear your own Dementia Friends badge? There is plenty of information online about how you can help those living with dementia, and by wearing your badge with pride, you’ll be raising awareness and showing you’re willing to help when you’re out in your community yourself. 

· Be accommodating 

If you’re organising any events or activities around the Christmas period, remember to make them accessible for those living with dementia. Simple changes like big, clear signposts and quiet rooms set aside can make everything much easier and more welcoming for those people. 

· Create music 

Studies have shown that listening to and participating in musical activities, particularly when old favourites like carols are involved, can be highly beneficial to those living with dementia. If you know of people in your community who are living with this illness, why not invite them along to the church carol service, or to a sing song at the community hall? Carolling can be very inclusive for those living with dementia, and can bring back wonderful memories too. 

· Be patient and understanding 

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the Christmas rush and bustle, particularly when we’re out last-minute present shopping or getting our food for the big day. Try to think about others when you’re out and about, and instead of getting irritated by the confused old lady in the supermarket, ask if she needs any help. 

It is estimated that within the next decade the number of people living with dementia will exceed one million. That’s around one in every ten people you’ll meet. Knowing the signs, and what you can do not just to help them but to make them feel included and valued, can make all the difference to those in your community.