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How You Can Help A Family Member Who Has Dementia

Having a family member with dementia means a lot of adjustments and extra patience and care. There will be a new standard of normal in your family. You should know what to expect and what resources are available so taking care of your loved one can be much easier. Here are some of them.

Being Logical and Reasonable is Not the Best Approach

You cannot expect people with dementia to act in ways that might make sense by normal standards. For most people, we tend to carefully explain the situation to get compliance. This does not work for people with dementia as they no longer look up to anyone as a boss. The demented person no longer responds to arguments regardless how logically sound and accurate they might be. In communicating with people with dementia, it is best to go by straightforward and simple sentences.

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Dealing with a demented loved one will not be easy, but do remember that you cannot be a perfect family member. You have all your human emotions functioning and, at times, you are going to get frustrated or impatient. If, however, you learn to forgive and accept your loved ones situation, things will become more manageable.

How to Deal with Poor Judgment and Cognitive Issues

You might find your demented family member hurling unfounded accusations against anyone in sight. Random statements like “you stole my toilet seat!” and repetition of comments and tasks might bother you, but you have to learn to adjust.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends being encouraging and reassuring if you see this behavior. You can also deal with frustration and embarrassment by helping to stay organized in small ways. Be very careful not to blatantly question the person’s ability to handle the situation or try to argue with them. When you get interpreted as accusatory, this could anger them and put them in defense mode.

Do not Overestimate or Underestimate What Your Loved One Can Do

When you have a loved one suffering from any form of dementia, you might be tempted to do something for them most of the time. This, however, is not the best approach. If they get used to you doing things for them, they might completely lose the ability to function on their own totally. This is why many people with dementia lose the ability to perform day to day tasks, like brushing teeth.

On the other hand, if we keep insisting that our loved ones do things for themselves, you could be setting them up to be constantly frustrated and angered. They can get agitated and their capacities to perform such tasks might not even improve.

How to Deal with Confusion with Time and Place

You might find your loved one getting angered and wanting to go home, even if he or she has not even left in the first place. It is very common for them to lose track of where they are or what time it is. This is one of the areas you should be careful about.

To deal, explain simply with photos or tangible reminders. Some would also recommend saying as little as possible about the situation and let them find another activity, like taking a walk or having a snack. Try to give your loved one something that will make him or her feel the safest, even if it means a therapeutic lie.

Say It Clearly Instead of Asking


Asking any other person what he or she would like to have for dinner or what to watch on TV might be pretty normal and harmless. This, however, is not the case for your loved one with dementia because he or she might not have the words to express what they want. They might not even care when they are hungry or if they need anything at all.

Instead, just be straightforward and do the thinking for them. When you say “you are going to have dinner now,” you leave no room for decision making for a troubled mind. The demented person is saved from a dilemma of having to respond.

Dealing with a loved one with dementia is a new challenge, but this can be manageable when you learn to adapt. Do you have a demented loved one? How do you deal with the situation? Share with us your experience in the comments below.

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