As a caregiver, how can I deal with dementia?

As a caregiver, you can best help your loved one suffering with dementia by providing a stable environment with a solid daily routine and constant reassurance, and by staying in close contact with the person's healthcare providers.
Here are a few tips for dealing with dementia in a relative or friend you are caring for:

  • Use short, simple sentences, and speak clearly and slowly. Use a reassuring voice, but don't condescend.
  • Turn off the TV or radio when you are trying to talk.
  • Repeat yourself as often as needed, adding encouraging gestures, visual demonstrations or other cues.
  • Encourage your relative or friend to talk about people, places and events he or she remembers.
  • Don't argue or interrupt.
Daily Life
  • Overestimate the time your relative or friend will need to spend on any task.
  • Limit choices—offer two acceptable alternatives, but no more. Say, "Let's go," rather than "Would you like to go?" or "If it's OK with you ..."
  • Reduce distractions and noise.
  • Keep clutter to a minimum.
  • Don't plan any complicated activities for late in the day or the evening.
  • Perform regular tasks in the same order each day.
Car Safety

If you think your family member or friend can no longer drive safely, have this ability assessed by a healthcare professional. If your fears are confirmed, you can keep your relative or friend away from the car while still maintaining his dignity by using some of these strategies from the Alzheimer's Association:
  • Ask a healthcare professional to write a "do not drive" or "retire from driving" prescription.
  • Remove the distributor cap or battery.
  • Keep control of the car keys.
  • Park the car in a different place—for instance, in a neighbor's driveway.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.