Ways to Cope When Caring for a Loved One with Dementia


As you may already know, managing life when caring for a loved one with dementia, is an ongoing process that changes moment to moment.  There are a couple of ingredients that may help ease some of the stress.  The first is flexibility.  The second is having an action plan.

Tips in Remaining Flexible

Letting go of the way things should be, and accepting what is possible now, can help in creating a better relationship between you and your loved one.  Some hints that may make tough moments flow a little better are:

  • Remember that it’s the dementia, not your loved one that is causing your frustration or feelingscoping while caring for dementia one of anger.
  • Instead of telling your loved one to “Stop”, or “Don’t do it that way”, consider rephrasing it into, “Let’s try it this way.”
  • Don’t argue with your loved one’s reality.  If it’s 1986 to him or her, then it’s 1986.  Pick your battles wisely.
  • Ask yes/no questions, and keep instructions simple and short.

Creating a Plan

Having a plan in place creates a sense of some control, and helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed as the disease process progresses.  Some important things to consider are:

  • Learn about your loved one’s diagnosis.  This will help you understand the disease process, which will help you plan ahead and have realistic expectations. coping while caring for dementia two
  • Once you have some working knowledge of what to expect, identify what you can and can’t control.
  • Research and take advantage of community resources, such as Meals on Wheels and adult daycare programs.
  • Get your financial and healthcare matters in order.  To better prepare for the future, be sure to obtain durable and medical power of attorney, so that when your loved one can no longer make decisions, you are legally prepared to step in.
  • Begin holding monthly family meetings.  Be sure to include your loved one with dementia.  Discuss what care is needed, and how each person is able to assist in care.
  • Begin looking for professional support now, and decide at what point you will reach out for this support.  As you begin to take on more responsibility, it’s easy to allow yourself to slip into the background.  Have a plan to stay above water.  Pick out a home healthcare agency that will offer what you and your loved-one will need, when the time comes.

You’re now in a position where you have the daunting task of juggling your life and the life of your loved one with dementia.  Be aware of the changes that will take place and try to prepare for them as soon as possible.  There’s not one way to do this.  I’d love to hear ideas you’ve had success with, in better balancing your life while caring for a loved one with dementia.  What has worked for you?

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About Pam Witt

Pam Witt is a licensed RN and has more than 32 years of experience in the caregiving, home care, home health and healthcare industries. She has more than 10 years of successful marketing experience with one of the largest healthcare software companies in the world. Pam’s philosophy is that “life is a gift” and it should not be wasted. Pam’s main objective through the NAPHC and ProfessionalHomeCare.org is to make a positive impact in the home care, home health and home hospice industry by providing the best information and training available.

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