Jul 16, 2015

The Role of Relationship Change in Dementia Care

The role of change in dementia care is about discovering what your loved one likes to do and figuring out how to guide them.

The role of change in dementia care is about discovering what your loved one likes to do and figuring out how to guide them

When Alzheimer's strikes, when we receive the diagnosis, we enter what can best be described as a period of "great sadness".

A kind of all encompassing emotion stress that can include: fear, denial, pain, stress, confusion, and an overall sense of hopelessness.

The list of potential negative emotions and feelings are long, very long.

How did you feel?

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By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

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The majority learn how to deal with these feeling and emotions.

Some of us fall deeper into sadness - a depression caused by Alzheimer's and related dementia.

One of the hardest things to discover is

The Role of Relationship Change in Dementia Care.

Our initial instinct is to try and change the person living with dementia back into one of us. To help them come back - so to speak.
  • We make lists for them so they can remember.
  • We try and explain why are wrong, and why we are right.
  • We sometimes talk about them as if they are not there. Some of us come to believe they are not there.

But there they are -- open your eyes and take a look.

You really can't fix what is wrong with a person living with dementia. For the most part they will just keep on doing what they are doing unless you embrace to the role of change.


For many it seems like a world filled with Alzheimer's is a bad place. But, there are many of us that soon learn that Alzheimer's World is a kind and gentle place.

A kind of place where the same enormous heartbreak we once felt turns into an unexplainable Joy.

In Alzheimer's World an alchemy of sorts can occur when bad magically transforms into good.

The role of relationship change in dementia care starts not with fixing behavior but by understanding dementia related behavior.

Not by trying to fix but by trying to guide and encourage.

What does a person living with dementia like to do? If you ask them if they want to do something they will probably say NO.

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It is at this point that you begin to discover the role of change in dementia care.

Asking a person living with dementia if they want to do something, what they want to eat, or if they want to take a shower, will usually bring an empty or negative response.

So instead of asking -- why not guide.

Become a guide. 

Gently lead  the person living with dementia in the right directions.

Start helping your loved do the things they always enjoyed.

This can be simple. Like making sure the newspaper is available to them, and right in front of them early in the morning.

Did they read the newspaper in the morning in the past? Did they enjoy the newspaper?

Then guide them to the newspaper and begin by reading it with them, or having them read parts of the paper to you.

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The role of change in dementia care is mostly about discovering what your loved one likes to do and figuring out how to guide them.

You want to guide them to live their life, while you continue to live your life right along with them.

Think like a guide, not like a bad parent.


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Bob DeMarco is the Founder and Editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 5,100 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

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