The Do’s and Don’t of Dementia Care

November 28, 2014 6:02 pm

Dementia care is very difficult for anyone. While carers at care homes for the elderly are trained in such areas it is still worth knowing the basics of the condition if you have a dementia sufferer in your family and whether they are in a care home or not. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease are complex illnesses which have unpredictable symptoms. You may see someone you know well undergo personality changes that can be upsetting and scary. Here are a few guidelines about what to do and what not to do if you have a dementia sufferer in your family or circle of friends.


Do – Neutralise potentially volatile situations

You may encounter your loved one becoming quickly panicked and aggressive, suddenly wanting to do something which is not possible or quickly exit a situation they are uncomfortable in. The best way to defuse such scenarios is to identify the cause of the aggression, and shift the focus to another topic in a calm reassuring manner.

Don’t – Over-explain confusing situations

Even simple situations can become confusing to someone in the advance stages of Alzheimer’s. Avoid explaining things in a long drawn out manner. The best way to comfort the person if they become confused is to offer simple explanations with the aid of photographs or reminders that they are familiar with. Confusion over place and time is common – they may unexpectedly find themselves in an unfamiliar place, not know how they got there and become very uneasy. Take the heat out of the situation by going for a calming walk or doing another activity such as having a snack or hot drink.

dementia care

Do – Be reassuring and encouraging if confusion arises over finances or things going missing

Cognitive problems as a result of dementia can lead to poor judgement when it comes to sorting out bills or misplacing household items. The best way to deal with these awkward situations is to assist your loved one in staying organised. Be reassuring and encouraging by avoiding placing blame and working to find a solution to the situation.

Don’t – Patronise the Dementia sufferer

Baby talk is an absolute no-no when communicating with a dementia sufferer. It is much more productive to speak to the person with respect and preserve their dignity as much as possible. Eye contact is also important and it is not helpful to mutter things unclearly while doing other tasks. This will only cause frustration.

Do – Encourage conversation about familiar subjects

While it is good to encourage memory recall it is best to build up your loved one’s confidence and improve their mood by talking about common ground which you know they are familiar with. Going back to talk about something they had mentioned earlier in a conversation may help a conversation progress rather than break down with doubt and worry at gaps in memory.

Don’t – Interrupt while they are speaking

It is important to be patient when speaking to a dementia sufferer. Give them time to collect their thoughts and finish what they want to say. Do not make them feel that you are being inconvenienced by talking to them. Again, be encouraging and reassuring.

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