What NOT to say to a dementia care partner

What NOT to say to a dementia care partnerCare partners have heard insensitive things like: “Why even visit? It’s not like she remembers you,” or “At least he’s still alive.”

They’ve also heard things like “Things will get better” or “I know how you feel” from someone who hasn’t actually experienced caring for someone with dementia.

The reason I wanted to bring up this conversation with you and the rest of our community of dementia care partners is to talk about how we can address the lack of understanding so many of you encounter.

Perhaps it would be helpful to think of each comment from others as an opportunity to educate. Gently explain from your perspective how the disease works:

  • “You’re right, Mom doesn’t always recognize me anymore because of how Alzheimer’s has affected her brain, but she can still respond positively to hugs and other loving gestures that don’t necessarily require memory to understand. She lives in the moment, and I want to be there to help Mom experience as many happy moments as possible.”
  • “Things won’t get better, at least not in terms of Dad’s condition, because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and there is no cure. But things could get better for both Dad and me in terms of care if we had some help. Would you be willing to come by one evening a week to help take care of Dad?”

Another way to help spread awareness and understanding is to recommend a short online training course. These courses not only offer best practices for interacting with someone who has dementia, but also emphasize the importance of maintaining the individual’s dignity.

Source: Home Instead Senior Care