Caring for Someone Who Suffers from Dementia

What are some of the challenges about caring for someone with dementia

People with mental health disorders can be challenging to work with, especially when it is a disorder that is difficult to understand. People who find themselves in the position of caregiver are usually family members, but not always. Caregivers are often well-meaning neighbors and friends as well. If you find yourself in the unique position of caring for someone who has dementia, here are a few things that think about moving forward.

Where to start

Staring off, you need as much information as possible. This may be information you are already privy to if you are a close family member. If you are not, you will need to understand the person's medical condition. Medical history can be gathered from the doctors and pharmacists.

People with Alzheimer's in particular must be handled with care. Alzheimer's is a disease that affects the brain. It can affect each patient differently but the condition worsens with time. Understanding your loved one's own unique symptoms is essential. People with Alzheimer's go through stages that mark the progression of the disease and each stage will present different challenges.

Early Onset Dementia

During the mild stage, the patient begins showing signs of memory loss and forgetfulness. Handling a patient in early stages of dementia can be difficult because they may not be fully aware or accepting of the disease.

Moderate Stage

During the moderate stage, the patient is facing more obvious signs of Alzheimer's. This stage is often the longest stage and can be very difficult for the patient and family members alike. People have obvious memory loss which often causes frustration and anger. They can become disoriented and are a high risk for becoming lost or wandering.

Final stage

During the severe stage the patient usually requires 24-hour assistance. People with severe Alzheimer's require help with personal care and often have issues with mobility and walking.

Tips for Managing

  • Be patient. Remember that as trying as it can be for you, it's even more upsetting for the patient.
  • Remember to listen. People aren't always able to able to articulate their needs, this is where your observation skills are helpful.
  • Make a schedule. Consistency can be very therapeutic for those with mental challenges. Make a to do list with the patient. This allows the patient to feel empowered and still have a sense of control.
  • Take care of yourself. Getting the rest that you need and taking proper breaks can have a positive effect.
  • Become well acquainted with family members and loved ones. People who know the patient well can be a valuable asset to you. They can help you establish what's "normal" for the patient and give you information about their condition.
  • Ask questions. Include loved ones in the process and the schedule. Knowing who they are comfortable around can comfort and reduce stress.


Last Reviewed:
June 02, 2017
Last Updated:
June 03, 2017