Cancer and dementia care options

There are different options for care for someone with cancer and dementia. This depends on what is available in their area.


Care options for someone with cancer and dementia

It can be helpful for a person with cancer and dementia to think ahead and make some decisions about where they want to be cared for in the future. They may be able to stay at home with help and support. Or they can be cared for in a hospice or nursing home.

Where they will be cared for depends on:

  • what they want
  • what help they have from family and friends
  • what services are available in the area they live in
  • their medical condition.

Most people prefer to stay at home if they know they will have good-quality care. Even if they choose not to be cared for at home, they can still be surrounded by people and things that are important to them.

Short-term care

If the person you care for decides to be looked after at home, they can still have some types of short-term care. For example, they may be able to go to a day centre if you work during the day or need a break from caring.

Hospices and residential homes may also offer short stays for a few days or weeks. This might be for specialised care that helps control symptoms, or to give you a break from caring. We have more information about getting support as a carer.

Their GP, district nurse or specialist palliative nurse may be able to arrange short-term care in a:

  • hospital
  • residential home
  • care home with nursing (nursing home)
  • hospice.

Care in residential homes or nursing homes

Residential homes and nursing homes offer short-term and long-term care. They may also provide different levels of care. A social worker or healthcare worker can explain about this.

They can give you more information about local care homes and the type of care provided. They may also help you think about:

  • how to pay for different types of care
  • how to arrange different types of care.

Arranging a stay in a care home can take time.

Lists of local care homes are available from your local social services department. The standard of care provided by care homes and care agencies is monitored across the UK by care regulators.

These include:

Before choosing a care home or agency, you may want to check its standard of care with one of these organisations. It can be useful to find out if they are able to meet the needs of someone with cancer and dementia. Your healthcare worker or social worker may be able to give you this information. You could also ask to visit the care home before you decide.

Hospice care

Sometimes the person you care for may become more unwell or develop symptoms caused by cancer. They may want to be looked after in a hospice or in a palliative care unit of the local hospital.

Their GP, district nurse, specialist community palliative care nurse or social worker may suggest a short stay in a hospice or hospital. This may be because they have symptoms that would be easier to control with specialist care. They may be given treatments until symptoms improve. They then may be able to go back home.

Hospices are generally smaller and quieter than hospitals. They usually work at a much gentler pace. Many have sitting rooms and space for family to stay overnight. Sometimes there is a waiting list to go into a hospice, but this is usually short. If you are not sure about hospice care, you can ask to visit one before making a decision.

Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline can help carers find out what respite and long-term care options are available. Call them on 0800 888 6678 or send an email to helpline@dementiauk.org.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our bowel cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia 2015: Aiming higher to transform lives. 2015.

    Gosney et al. Dementia and Cancer: A review of current literature and practices. 2013.

    The Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) Guide: Writing dementia-friendly information. 2013.


  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Chief Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.