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Dementia Coping Tips for the Whole Family (1)When a loved one has dementia, it can affect the entire family. Not just emotionally, either. For example, eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the U.S. comes from family members, friends, or other unpaid caregivers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. And nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to older adults do so for someone living with Alzheimer's or another dementia. So how can you best support your loved one while also giving them your best? Check out these dementia coping tips for the whole family. 

Tip #1: Tend to their emotional needs. 

Dementia is a progressive disease, and in the early stages, your loved one will still be primarily independent. So while planning for the long term is important, initially, you'll want to be particularly supportive of your loved one's emotional needs. This dementia coping tip includes the following: 

  • Reassure your loved one that you will work together. 
  • Pledge that you will honor their wishes as best you can. 
  • Seriously consider a support group or psychotherapist who specializes in dementia. 

Tip #2: Take care of yourself. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but it's essential to continue taking care of yourself so you can be the best advocate for your loved one's care. And so you can best cope with the demands of caregiving, which can be psychologically and physically taxing even in the best circumstances, with plenty of help. Our dementia coping tip is to prioritize self-care by: 

  • Scheduling time away each week to do things that nourish you. 
  • Ask for help from other family members and friends or paid caregivers. 
  • Consider a dementia support group or psychotherapist for yourself.  


Download our Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia.


Tip #3: Don’t take your loved one’s behavior personally. 

Many people don’t realize that dementia doesn’t just affect memory; it can also change behavior. Your loved one may feel frustrated, scared, and angry, which can cause them to behave uncharacteristically. They might lash out at you or might not have impulse control, for example.  

While it doesn’t make it any easier, our dementia coping tip here is to try your best not to take these changes personally. However, if the behavior gets extreme, then you should reach out to your loved one’s doctor for the best way to navigate these changes.  

Tip #4: Help them access appropriate care. 

Accessing care may not seem like a dementia coping tip, but the fact is that your loved one’s ability to make rational decisions is compromised; it absolutely is. You see, it’s quite common for those with dementia to refuse to seek and accept treatment. Thus, you’ll need to convince them to do so with coping strategies such as the following: 

  • Pointing out that some dementia is treatable. 
  • Highlighting advances in dementia treatment. 
  • Showcasing studies of how memory care can delay or even improve symptoms. 
  • Enlisting the assistance of other family members to encourage treatment. 
  • Asking a trusted doctor to intervene. 
  • Talking about your feelings, such as what you worry about will happen if they don’t seek treatment. 
  • Giving your loved one time and space, unless symptoms are truly urgent.  

If your loved one continues to resist treatment and is no longer able to care for themselves, consider consulting a lawyer who specializes in elder law.  

Tip #5: Explore treatment options. 

This can be a really empowering dementia coping tip as exploring treatment options is something you can physically do to help your loved one, something you have some control over. And if your loved one is able, exploring options together can help them come around to the idea of care if they are hesitant as well. What’s more, the fact that most dementias can’t be cured shouldn’t be a deterrent to treatment. In fact, treatment can ease symptoms, prolong your loved one’s life, and curb anxiety and depression. Some questions to ask about treatment options include the following:  

  • What treatment options are available? 
  • What are the side effects of treatment? 
  • How likely is it that treatment will work? 
  • Are there alternative treatments available? 
  • Are there lifestyle strategies that can increase the effectiveness of the treatment? 
  • How long will it take to see results? 
  • How much does treatment cost, and is it covered by insurance? 
  • Are there clinical trials available that might help? 

When more than dementia coping tips are needed 

In the early stages of dementia, your loved one can likely remain at home with support from friends and family members and/or an in-home aide(s) who can provide personalized care. However, when their dementia progresses to the later stages, specialized care outside the home may become necessary to give your loved one the best quality of life.   

Memory care is a type of senior living that is specifically designed to nurture those with dementia. These communities offer specifically trained staff and individualized support with 24-hour supervision and an environment that is secure and easy to navigate. Our memory care communities can help your loved one live their best life with therapy, structured activities, social opportunities, and even dining options designed to improve nutrition and independence. 

To learn more about dementia coping tips, download our Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia today. 

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Written by All American