7 Tips for Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, here are several tips from professional caregivers that we hope might help lighten your load a little bit.

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A smiling young woman assists her mother, who is dealing with Alzheimer's

Are you a family caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia? Like Melanie Hall, you’ll probably experience special challenges due to your loved one’s cognitive limitations. We asked professional caregivers from Home Instead Senior Care to share their best advice for handling such challenges. Some tips:

1) Go where they are. “Validate their feelings. Confusion happens when their brain function declines. I always go where they are mentally. Maybe we go where they were fifty years ago. Sometimes we go where they are and stay all day.”—Lynette, Lafayette, Colorado

2) Do little things that make them feel good. “My 93-year-old client who has dementia loves to be pampered. I fix her hair and put on her makeup every morning. I take her outside or on trips around her building in her wheelchair.”—Willie Ann, Lubbock, Texas

3) Be consistent and reassuring. “My presence has been a good thing because of the consistency. We’ve developed a relationship. Maybe the biggest problem with my client’s dementia is that his dreams can seem so real to him. We talk things out, sorting through what’s not possible to have occurred.”—John, Anchorage, Alaska

4) Say yes to help. “Don’t try to take care of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia by yourself a hundred percent of the time. Get help from someone and get away for breaks.”—Phoebe, San Diego, California

READ MORE: CARING FOR A PARENT WITH ALZHEIMER'S

5) Tap into the joy of music. “My client’s ear for music is so good that I put it to work. I will purposely sing off-key so she can stop me and correct me. Music, researchers say, is one of the memories that holds on longest with someone who has dementia.”—LeKita, Livonia, Michigan

6) Keep them socially active. “I took a man who had late-stage dementia to lunch at the VA hospital. People there knew him well from his days when he had a higher capacity to communicate. He enjoyed talking to people and having coffee. It was important that others acknowledged him.”—Steve, Martinsburg, West Virginia

7) Don’t take difficult behavior personally. “The only way to handle a challenging situation is to remember I serve a loving God who wants me to help. I use patience, compassion, redirection, laughter, humor.”—Sandra, Statesville, North Carolina

Are you interested in a fulfilling job, working as a professional caregiver? Learn more at homeinstead.com/guideposts.

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