10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Caring for Someone With Dementia

Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks, shares her insights about caring for someone with the disease. Plus, check out more of Katie’s discussion of the effects of Alzheimer’s here.

1. “Stop trying to be perfect!”

You aren’t. Nobody else is either. Life just doesn’t work that way. Why add the pressure of being perfect when you are already under stress with dementia knocking on your door? Just do the best you can with the information you have in the moment you are in. Then let it go, knowing that next time you can always improve.

2. “How you choose to look at the world will determine your memories.”

Keep in mind, your attitude shapes your perception and your perception triggers your reaction which in turn, creates a memory. Future decisions then are affected by your memories.

3. “Schedules, consistencies, and patterns can be a lifesaver to both the patient and those caring for someone with dementia.”

Setting up routines early can be a valuable tool as the disease progresses. These practices create a pattern for everyday activities and help set that internal clock in each of us, making it easier to establish expectations and improve outcomes.

4. “Remember, a name isn’t important. It’s our connection that counts!”

Your relationship runs much deeper than whether you are recognized by someone who cannot remember and say your name. You already know that. Now it’s time to accept and appreciate the more important depth of your relationship.

5. “Modeling a behavior to a person with dementia can be very effective.”

If you want your loved one to be happy, start with your own behavior. Exhibit the emotion and reaction you want, and you will increase the likelihood of getting the response you are looking for.

6. “Become a detective.”

By putting on your investigator’s cap and watching for what triggers a certain reaction, you can then effect a more positive outcome. Alter your approach, the surroundings, or the caregiver, and you can change the reaction from someone with dementia.

7. “Remember to meet people where they are.”

When you fall into old patterns of setting expectations for a person with any form of dementia, you set up additional stress and frustration for yourself and your loved one. Keep in mind that people with dementia can no longer meet you where you are, so you have to enter their world.

8. “Don’t put a person in a freeze frame.”

Remember, our lives are constantly changing. It’s not fair to move forward in our own lives and try to freeze a person with dementia in time to the person they once were.

9. “It’s about progress, not perfection.”

Allow others to help, knowing there is more than one way to complete a task. Life is richer with diversity. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Give yourself a needed break and allow others the gift of giving of themselves.

10. “When caring for people with dementia, focus on three simple things: Are they safe, happy, and pain free?”

By keeping it simple, it’s amazing how things that bothered you before can melt away! Watch the Your Memory Chip™ for more details.

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