Caring for Someone With Dementia

  • Providing care for a person with dementia can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and getting enough rest.
  • By continuing to learn about dementia and its symptoms, you’ll give yourself the best chance to manage difficult behaviors.
  • Tackle each difficulty individually, starting with the most immediately frustrating problem.

Next Step

Listening and other communication skills are an essential part of providing care for a loved one with dementia.

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Alzheimer’s and other dementia-causing diseases are sometimes called “family diseases” because children, spouses, and other family members are often the ones who provide the necessary day-to-day care. As the disease worsens and involves more upsetting changes, it can take a heavy toll on a caregiver’s physical and mental health, family life, job, and finances. But by taking a balanced, thoughtful approach, you can reduce your stress while helping your loved one remain as comfortable as possible.

First, accept the ever-changing nature of the disease. What works today may not work tomorrow. Adaptation is essential. For example, if your loved one can no longer use a fork or spoon but can eat with his or her fingers, serve as many finger foods as possible. Your creativity and common sense are two of your strongest allies.

Find a Support Group

Join a local or online support group to share your experiences and struggles. Contact the Alzheimer's Foundation of America at 1-866-AFA-8484 or [email protected] to find a local group.

Another difficult but essential truth to swallow is that you can only do so much. While your help can go a long way toward making your loved one’s life more comfortable, you cannot cure the disease or stop its progression.

Simple safeguards can reduce day-to-day worries. For example, have an ID necklace or bracelet made for your loved one, including his or her name, illnesses, and your telephone number. Many organizations sell these products, including the Alzheimer’s Association.

Keep in mind that you can’t provide effective care for your loved one unless you’re also taking good care of yourself. Make sure you’re consistently getting enough rest, eating well, and making time for things you enjoy.

Next Step: Learn how to communicate better with someone suffering from dementia.

Ask the Expert


Experts at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America have the answers to your toughest Alzheimer’s and dementia questions.

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