East Central Indiana Blog

Helping a Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

Caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or other causes of dementia can be rewarding, frustrating, heartbreaking, and humorous. Here are a few tips that can help when their brain function changes and memory becomes a challenge.

DON’T ask “don’t you remember…?!” Asking point-blank if they remember something or someone in an accusatory way can cause them distress and can be upsetting for loved-ones as well.

DO feel free to talk casually about good memories and people from their lives. There is nothing wrong with reminiscing even if they can’t recall everything.

DON’T speak about your loved one as though they’re not present. Regardless of whether or not they are even able to speak, they can hear everything you say. A common mistake people make is speaking about their loved one right in front of them without acknowledging their presence.

DO Feel free to have conversation with other people in the same room and continue to speak to your loved one like they can hear you. You’ll thank yourself later for treating your loved one with empathy and respect in this way.

DON’T allow yourself to become overly sensitive or serious.

DO try to find humor is the situation as much as possible. As long as you continue to be respectful to your loved one, humor is a VERY healthy response! It can help you be more compassionate, extend your ability to be patient, and help lighten the mood for your loved one and other family members.

DON’T reprimand them for forgetting or asking the same question multiple times. They simply have no control over their ability to remember and criticizing their memory is not only unkind, but also completely unproductive.

DO simply answer the question again. Remember that the conversation likely feels brand new to them and they are not annoying you on purpose. Many people suffering from dementia are aware that they are forgetting something but don’t know what or why. Remind yourself of this and continue to respond with patience and compassion. Be sure to take a deep breath if repeated questions get frustrating or you feel like a broken record.

DON’T expect too much of yourself. Regardless of how much you love your family member, dementia can be very frustrating to deal with.

DO Make sure to take regular breaks and make use of your resources (family members, friends, or professional caregivers) to support you and your loved one.
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