Caring for a Loved One Who Suffers from Dementia


With 10 percent of adults over the age of 65 suffering from dementia, there is a high likelihood that you know someone who has this condition. Nursing home care can range from $4,471 to $24,333, causing many family members to opt for caring for their loved ones themselves.

Dementia is a serious disease that can cause memory loss, paranoia, poor coordination, and problems performing complex tasks. As you can imagine, there is a lot that goes into caring for someone who has been diagnosed with the disease. To prepare yourself for this lifestyle change, it’s crucial to have a game plan. This includes how you will engage with them, occupying their time with activities, providing a nutritious diet, establishing routines, and allocating time for yourself.


Those with dementia can find it troubling to communicate like they used to. Oftentimes, they can’t think of the word they want to use or get stuck saying the same thing over and over. Since it can become draining for both sides to communicate, it is important to practice the following:

  • Stay positive.
  • Simplify what you want to communicate.
  • Use body language to let them know you are listening. This includes maintaining eye contact, holding their hand, and shaking your head yes or no.

Good communication can reduce a lot of frustration and misunderstanding. Just like any other respectful relationship, healthy communication is required.


Coordinating regular activities for those suffering from dementia can help them maintain a positive mood, find purpose, and keep their brain and bodies active. Remember, it can be difficult for them to understand and perform complex tasks. Some simple activities you can have them participate in include the following:

  • Aerobics
  • Gardening
  • Walking

As their illness progresses, your loved one may decline in their ability to do certain tasks. Access what they are capable of and incorporate their interests.

Nutrition and Hydration

Like anyone else, people with dementia need a highly nutritious diet and to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, those suffering may forget to eat or struggle to choose a healthy meal. Provide options and easy-to-eat foods in small portions frequently throughout the day, and remind them to drink water to keep their bodies nourished.


Establishing a routine can make a huge difference. Since dementia over time may limit the tasks your loved one can do on their own, it is essential to get them in a routine so they can independently do tasks as long as possible. Additionally, this helps them understand what is coming next and gives them a sense of peace. To develop a routine, consider the following steps for each task:

  • Demonstrate the task.
  • If they are unable to do the full tasks on their own, have them do a portion of the task.
  • Be respectful.

Giving your loved one responsibility for tasks like brushing their teeth, brushing their hair, cleaning off their plate, or hanging up their clothes regularly can establish a stable routine.

Taking Time for Yourself

Getting caught up in caring for your loved one can be easy, but being a caregiver can become straining mentally and physically even if you enjoy what you do. Burnout can happen to anyone, and it’s important to not feel ashamed of needing to take time for yourself. Having a clear mind and a good night of rest will give you motivation and energy to care for another person.

If you find yourself withdrawing from others and your usual interests, becoming angered easily, or not being able to sleep well, you may be experiencing burnout. Reach out to medical professionals for help.

While it is extremely rewarding and comforting knowing your loved one is receiving adequate care, there are quite a few responsibilities that come along with the job. Providing great communication, simple activities, nutritious meals, and routines are all part of caring for someone with dementia.

A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.


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