Helpful hints for Dementia Caregivers?

Even little hints that will make life easier will be most helpful.

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  • Take your client out for a walk each day and their dog too. And have scents, spices, & music that is familiar with their culture  out a few hours during each day, it breaks the day up with pleasantness for everyone.  Include your client in light conversations, it enables them to be engaged  and feel safe, occasionally bring little gifts, and leave treats in near unexpected places.  In the native american community people often  adopt an elder person and come to visit as family and paying it forward and keeping the community strong.

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    • Nancy Brooke Mathers  My Mother is not walking now for some reason she just stop and took to the bed.  I would love to put her in the wheel chair and take out strolling just to enjoy the sunshine.  I know she would love it but it is so hard for me along to safely move her from the bed to chair.  So I make the time worth our visit by talking to her, singing and asking her questions to see how she response and watch the expression on her face.

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  • Lots of great ideas. Unfortunately, my family member can barely take 1/2 step now & we still hold him up to walk from bed to chair & back several times a day. We leave music on most of the day and talk to him as if he does understand everything, although sometimes I'm sure he doesn't.  He talks some, not conversations, just comments. And when he says, "I love you, baby", that makes my day and still pulls me down to him for a sweet kiss. Hold onto everything dear and don't let go for as long as you can.

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    • Carolyn Cox My mother is bed bound and we try to put on familiar music for her to reminisce for her generation. Some days she remembers more than others, but she always taps her foot when the music is on. We alternate that with watching movies; generally something bright because she cant follow the story line well anymore. She enjoys Rio, Ice Age; and most anything with dancing, children, or animals. She has stuffed animals that she "works" on as well (this gives her something to do with her hands) since she was a seamstress, craftier, all around do it yourself-er. And you are right, always talk to them as if they understand everything, because most of the time they do, they just can't articulate back. I also love the days when I get kisses! All the Best.

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    • DARLENE HERPS  My mother is also bed bound and I try to visit her weekly she is 95 and she love for you to talk to her as an adult.  Do not sugar coat the conservation with her this is her time she can communicate with you and response back like an adult from Harvard.

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  • One of the hints I learned is never to argue with them. They know what stage of life they are at in any time frame. They must always be right.

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  • My husband thought the man in the mirror was another person & he talked to him quite regularly. One day I stood behind him, he looked at me then saw me in the mirror. I explained that is me in the mirror beside him and that is him in the mirror.  He looked back & forth several times & actually "got it" for the moment. 

    The man in the mirror put bad ideas in his head, such as someone was trying to get him. I covered the mirrors & solved that issue. He was more calm after not getting bad advice anymore.

    And, yes, you are 100% right on the money. No amount of disagreement  can convince a dementia patient  that what they think is not true.  The best thing to do is try to change the subject to get their mind away from anxious thoughts.

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  • The best thing we came across to help us out with a parent who has this was a support group in our local church.

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    • Toni Irvine   Don't know how I could cope without my "circle of strength."  Our senior center has organized support groups all over the county.  They are wonderful.  If one is a caregiver, one NEEDS support of all kinds.  Just being with others who share the same situations for an hour or two every week or every month is such a huge blessing.

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  • Bonnie Ruhoff said:
    They know what stage of life they are at in any time frame. They must always be right.

     Oh boy...this is SO true!  I like the way you worded it, though...your thoughts traveled from my head to my heart.  It has changed my behavior, which is the only thing I can change around here!  Now, where's that duct tape, so I can keep my lips sealed?

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    • Leslie Menges  Oh my God So So True.  As I set and watch my mother who is a godly person one who loves the Lord and her church.  I love the word her thoughts traveled from my head to my heart all I can say is Thank you JESUS!!! this is how I make it threw the day when we are together.

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  • The one thing I was most proud of in regards to my participation in my mother's life who had dementia, was about twice a week I would take her for rides through the country.  We would start at McDonalds, get a large strawberry milkshake, then I would travel back roads that would circle around lakes or climb into mountains...inevitably something of interest would flash before us, deer, wild turkeys, horses, cows, goats, beautiful scenery.  The thing was, it was a pleasure for both of us.

    In addition, I always had a  personal goal of my own on these excursions like eventually getting to a store where I needed something.  Sometimes mom would wait in the car, or sometimes she would sit on  a bench watching the bustle of customers inside the store.  I often brought back a little block of cheese with crackers and she would munch happily on our return trip back to her assisted living home.  My love for my mom deepened with these trips. 

    The beauty of these excursions is there is no need to feel you have to engage your loved one while you are with them.  The passing scenery is the engagement. Conversation that does arise is usually effortless because my mother's concerns were brought up within the flow of her stream of consciousness, not mine.  She would talk for awhile and eventually meander off to view the scenery or sip her drink.

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    • Greg Miner  Yes I do agree with you my mother love the ride in the country site seeing and I really enjoy the ride and the time with her.  She loves to have lunch at Burger King and always let's go to Dairy Queen for a milkshake.  I love her sweet spirit.

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    • Greg Miner I love your story about your mom.  I just found out I have moderate dementia and Im scared of my future.  

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  • good ideas

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  • A book " I Can't Fix It by Alan Martin " Really helped me survive caregiving my wife 

    with Alzheimer's for 15 years. It will help you too. Search Amazon, Bookrix and others.

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  • I take care of my mom full time. I take my mom out with me when the weather is nice we live in Arizona. The weather is nice here most of the time.  When  it's cold outside I'll do the cooking. Mom will look outside at the cars and people sometime show underlying magazines. When it's nice out I'll take her to the senior citizen place and have lunch with her and she enjoys talking and seeing everyone there. I keep her busy I take her to the malls I take her out to eat. I take her to the tailgate parties the football games. I'll take her to the Kingdom Hall where everyone loves to come up and visit with her and she really enjoys it.  I take care of my mom 24 hours a day. I had her in a Skilled Nursing Facility also known as a nursing home she got three bed sores it took me a over a year to get rid of them. I promise I would never send your back I'm so thankful she doesn't have any bed sores yes I do get up and turn her every couple of hours at night keep her clean it's a full-time job.

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    • Terry Saragosa 

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    • ann lavigne  Hi Terry. I was just thinking about how exhausted you must be all the time. I hope you get a little time to yourself, just to relax or do something enjoyable. Your mom is very lucky to have you. 

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      • Gina Boyd
      • Gina_Boyd
      • 1 yr ago
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      Terry Saragosa  I just looked up bed sore prevention. They have air mattress that rotate the pressure and you just put it over her mattress and it comes with a pump. They are about $70-$100. This might allow you to get a full nights rest and help put your mind at ease.

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    • Gina Boyd 

      yes I bought alternating  air bubble mattress topper head to toe length and it’s good, even the visiting home health nurse for my mom love it!

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    • ann lavigne 

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  • My mom is in a wheelchair I get her up with the Hoyer lift everyday. It's hard taking care of family members twenty-four hours a day. Mom gets a lot of UTIs she was in the hospital 4 times in a month and a half UTIs in the pneumonia I stay with her in the hospital to reassure her everything is okay she'll ask me can they draw blood can they take my vitals and I'll say yes they can do it. My mom loves stuffed animals so I have one with her everywhere we go. I don't know what else to say just if possible have them stay with you at the home if she would have been in a nursing home she would have never lasted as long as she has. Mom's 86 years old now.  As long as she's well she still has a smile on her face and happy to be out she might not be able to talk much. But when she sees a familiar place she's all right now where we're going then she gets all happy. Thank you

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  • There are several blogs you can be a part of and they really give the caregiver support so they can continue to care for their loved one. There are also hints and tips there to physical care, emotional care, and financial care for those that are just starting on this journey. This trip will definitely make you stronger and there are days you just have to hold on. You will have to try, try, try, because you will be tested when applying for assistance of any kind. Keep at it and eventually you will succeed.

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  • Hospice care was and is my saving grace. People think hospice is for dying  and  to an extent it is. .. but it has added quality and help to my mom's well being during her dementia  stage.  Check with your local agency and see if they can help. 

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  • God bless the caregivers. This is a noble undertaking.

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  • Make sure your loved one is well hydrated. Don't ask them if they want a drink, but get it and offer it to them often. It goes a long way in keeping them healthier and the UTIs down.

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  • My dad has mid-stage Parkinson's dementia and he WON'T DRINK!! His blood pressure is chronically very low even with meds & he's always tired but says he's always been a 'sipper.' I want to SCREAM!  When his physical therapist comes over he drinks for them, saying he has to because they are professionals. His dr.'s tell him to drink & he says he will but he doesn't.  I give him Jello, soup, popscicles. Example:  he takes 3 lrg capsules & 2 tabs  & a gelcap at lunch and will wash it down with literally less than a Tbsp. of water. I offer all kinds of drinks & no difference. I'm lucky if he gets 10 oz.'s most days.  He's had 2 kidney infections land him in hospitals in less than a year, February stay was followed with a month at a rehab hospital. He got IV fluids there & did great. Now he's going down hill again. He's weak & fell 3x this past weak. HOW DO I GET FLUIDS IN HIM???

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      • David
      • Terry_Saragosa
      • 1 yr ago
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      Ask his Doctor if he can order  2 IV  fluids every week. The Doctor will probably put in a pick line for your dad so it will stay in so they can just put the fluids in faster.  Also you can ask if the  physical therapist can come out twice a week to give him fluids to drink.  Talk to his Doctor and ask if someone can come in and help him out with eating and drinking sometimes volunteers can come in and help you out as well. They could say You’re Doctor order this and I am here to help you. Sometimes you’re dad may  listen to someone else too drunk or eat. I hope this will help you out.

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    • Terry Saragosa I'll do that.  Thank you!

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    • Angela Adamcik A couple of my elderly residents that had dementia didn't want to drink & also ate very poorly at times but loved the milkshakes I would make for them. Because they needed nutrition also, I would make them with Ensure, ice cream, & add Carnation Instant breakfast & a little Protein powder too. If your dad doesn't need the nutrition you wouldn't have to add all the extras in theirs. The wife didn't LIKE to drink water but she would take a sip most of the time when I asked her to but I had to remember to ask her to while I was busy performing other duties. I solved this while she was watching TV - whenever a commercial would come on I would ask her to take a drink so it became quite often this happened. It got to be a joke between us. All I had to say was "commercial" & she would take her glass & take a drink! I sure miss her & her husband - loved them very much!! I was their private caregiver for the last 2 years of their lives.

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    • Angela Adamcik Maybe you have a neighbor that can fill in as a Dr and  give him instructions. Its for his own good to have a make believe Dr. You tell them what to say.

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    • Angela Adamcik you might try adding fruit-flavored drops to his water. They have all kinds of flavors. That helped both my mom and my husband to drink more liquids. I  bought a large 32-oz. insulated lidded cup (from Walmart) that will stay cold all day. I have a tall washable foam straw that fits the opening. It has no handle, so it fits our car drink holder which makes it easier to carry anywhere. It’s been one of our best investments ever!

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  • My mother has not yet been diagnosed, but it is quite obvious that she has dementia.....or something similar. I am basically her only support system right now and I live 30 minutes away and work full time 45 minutes from where she lives. She has been caring for my father for the last 5 years. He had a massive stroke and is paralyzed.  After a ton of convincing, she finally hired 12 hour/day care for him, but it's costing her a small fortune. She refuses to put him in long term care because she doesn't want to be alone and she doesn't want him to "rot in one of those places", but each time she has to make a payment she flips out over the cost and tells him he's going to have to go in a nursing home......only to change her tune minutes later that she's NOT putting him in one of those places. It's mentally exhausting to keep having the same conversation with her about this. She will NEVER willingly leave her home to go into assisted living or in a nursing home and my husband and I cannot quit our jobs to care for her and my father full time. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I could afford to quite my job and care for them both full time, I would do it in a heartbeat. Right now I am helping as much as I can, but I'm afraid it's not enough. The stress is taking it's toll on me. I am hoping to find a support group in the area. 

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    • Lost12 I feel for you. I was in the same boat, and fought tooth and nail to get my Mom diagnosed at a time when no one else would or could acknowledge it. One thing I found very helpful was to change my mindset from asking her and having her participate and agree to things she could not understand to simply making arrangements that needed to happen and either telling her or simply guiding her through without telling her. Basically, I went from asking to telling, which was a leap, but it really helped.  On some level, she will feel the relief of having someone step in and make the changes she is unable to make. Best of luck with all this. One day at a time.

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      • Lost12
      • Lost_12
      • 11 mths ago
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      Phyllis Capanna 

      Thank you, Phyllis! I appreciate your advice. I have started to tell rather than ask. It’s necessary at this point. Sometimes she’s ok with it and sometimes I am the focus of her anger. She thinks I’m being bossy. One day at a time is right! It’s too sad to focus on the inevitable future. 

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    • Lost12 Yes, I can relate to being the focus of her anger, too! My Mom complains and carps and makes lists of things she "needs," as if my only function in life is to supply her with things. I've had to really work on not taking it personally. She reserves her graciousness for others. It's maddening, but I have to remember, she is the one with dementia, and I am fortunately, able to live my life with faculties intact.

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      • Lost12
      • Lost_12
      • 11 mths ago
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      Phyllis Capanna 

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      • Lost12
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      Lost12 

      Yes! Not always easy to remember, but at the end of the day...we are not the ones sick! ....at least not yet! Something else I worry about. I believe it is hereditary. I try to live every day very differently now. I appreciate the little things and try not to stress about the things I cannot control. 

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  • Lost12, I understand your stress. My mother has dementia and we live together. I take care of her by myself and feel blessed to be able to most of the time. It can be really difficult when she becomes aggravated and is rude to me. Fortunately that doesn't happen all the time. I also can become aggravated when she is unable to do the simple things that she used to be able to do easily. I pray for strength and willingness every day and it helps.  Most days are great. She stayed at a rehab/nursing home for a couple of months after leaving the hospital and she hated it. I did too. Sometimes she makes comments about not wanting to live or maybe going back to a nursing home but she doesn't mean it and those thoughts quickly go away. I just listen when she tells the same story over and over or talks about things that are not true. It would only upset her if I try to correct her.  I finally at this stage of my life, realize that I don't have to be right. Nor do I need to tell her that she's wrong. Only if it would put her in danger do I need to correct her. If I can help it, she will never have to stay in a nursing home again. My prayers are with you and your family.

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      • Lost12
      • Lost_12
      • 1 yr ago
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      Gail Caperton 

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      • Lost12
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      • 1 yr ago
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      Lost12 

      Thank you, Gail. I appreciate your insight about learning to listen and not argue or correct your mother. I am learning to do the same. Unfortunately, since I am the one taking charge, i have become the focus of my mother’s anger. She doesn’t realize that something is seriously wrong and that she needs help. I have been taking her to doctor’s appointments to try and get to the bottom of her loss of memory and personality change. I hope we get the answers we need to make a plan on how best to move forward. Your mom is lucky to have you and that you are able to take care of her is a huge blessing. I know it requires a great deal of patience. I am still in my 40s and have quite a few years left before I can retire. I fear my mother WILL have to go into a nursing home and it beeaks my heart. She will never forgive my sister and me for putting her there. This brings me a lot of anxiety thinking about the future. I am trying to take one day at a time. It helps to talk to people like you who know and understand what I am going through. I think I will buy that book 360 that someone mentioned. I need to be as educated as I can moving forward. Good luck with your mom!  

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    • Lost12  Make sure the doctor checks your mom for a bladder infection too! Patients (female and male) with dementia can also get more confused and their personalities can change and get worse when they have a bladder infection.  Bladder infections can be more common in the elderly especially if they are unable to take care of their hygiene as well as they used to & if they don't drink as much as they should.

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      • Lost12
      • Lost_12
      • 1 yr ago
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      BRENDA MCCANN 

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      • Lost12
      • Lost_12
      • 1 yr ago
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      BRENDA MCCANN 

      Thank you for your advice! Every bit helps! 

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    • BRENDA MCCANN  I have found that a D-Mannose and Cranberry capsule once a day really seems to prevent UTIs. For  about 4-5 months my husband would barely get over one UTI when he would get another.  It would make him so weak he could barely walk. He couldn’t get into bed by himself. The doctor recommended  that he  have TURP surgery, which may have helped, but it seemed like before he was well another UTI was beginning. I immediately put him on one D-Mannose and Cranberry capsule per day. That’s been over a year ago, and he has never had another UTI, which is amazing because he has trouble remembering to drink water. 

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  • My Mom nearly bedbound, but taking her outside in wheelchair still seems to make her feel better - seems more alert and hungrier (a very good thing!)

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  • Hi, my name is Bobbie and I am the caregiver for my mother-in-law. I am new to this and need some advice. 

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    • Bobbie Henrie 

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    • Gail Caperton  hey Bobby oh, I ordered a book and I'm still reading it called 36 hours a day. It is an excellent source of information about dementia and Alzheimer's.

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    • Gail Caperton  Thank you so much

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      • Lost12
      • Lost_12
      • 1 yr ago
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      Gail Caperton 

      Oops! Got the name of the book wrong! I will buy 36 Hours a Day! 

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      • Lost12
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      Lost12 

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      • Lost12
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      Lost12 

      Hi Bobbie. One thing I have learned, when your loved one is in an angry rage over something they perceive is happening.... but in fact is NOT, is that they need validation to justify their feelings of anger. I don’t know if you are experiencing this with your mother-in-law yet, but it is helpful to know if you find yourself in that situation. We avoided a complete disaster because my father’s caretaker was knowledgable and knew how to diffuse the situation. It’s a good thing she did because my mother was insisting that I fire the woman because she thought she stole something from her house. It’s a daily battle......Best of luck to you and your family. 

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      • Peg Flint
      • Peg_Flint
      • 1 mth ago
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      Gail Caperton 

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      • Peg Flint
      • Peg_Flint
      • 1 mth ago
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      Peg Flint  36 Hour Day has been my bible for the last 3 years. Highly recommend it to anyone with an Alzhermers loved one.

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  • Hi Bobbie. Lost 12 is correct.  My aunt is in an assited living facility, Memory Care unit.  She constantly speaks of her siblings and mother being there at the facility.  They have ALL died many years ago individually at different times starting in the 80s.  when she sees me, she asks me if I've spoken with my uncle (who died in 2016).  She asks me if I've heard from her sister (who died in 2009).  She asks me my if I spoke with my father (who died in 2008).    It is a continuing cycle.  At first I responded that the person was deceased.  She would tell me to stop talking nonsense.  The next day she asked me to help her investigate the mystery of who threw her dead sister's body in front of her window.  The psychologist advised me to go along with whatever dimension they are living in.  Pretend that you will assist in the near future.  It becomes a little game.  They will become angry if you correct them.  It is easier just to agree to assist with the situation.  frequently they forget about it within 5 minutes.  Sad and unfortunate.  

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  • You have to take your time with these patients, they get very upset when they are rushed, and they may lash out. Talk about their life back in the day, their children as babies, and things that are pleasant. 

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  • My mom has dementia and a colostomy. Our challenge has been that she forgets what it is and removes it! Thanks to a caring nurse, we found a solution. There are all kinds of colostomy bags and she found one that is more difficult to pull off. Also, at night she wears a onesie that zips in back so she can't remove the bag. Finding the solution took about 4 months, but our persistence paid off! So, my advice is to keep on looking for solutions and don't give up!

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  • Remember to never to take things personal. They are gems

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  • If you don't have an outlet, it would be very beneficial for you to find one. The stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia can quickly cause your own health issues.  I would play soothing relaxing music for my Mother (Steven Halpren.)  Friends and family who came to visit noticed how Peaceful the atmosphere was. I would take long walks, do Yoga,  play with my animals etc.... anything to get a respite from the stress. It's not that we don't care and love our family members; we just need to come up for air every now and again. 

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