Jun 12, 2018

Dementia Care Coaching: An Option for Caregivers

The best dementia caregiver coach of them all - Dr. Rita Jablonski ~ Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room

Dementia care coaching for caregivers can be very effective.
You have read the articles and the blogs. You’ve scoured the internet and watched YouTube videos.

You’ve checked out Facebook and Pinterest. You’ve read The 36-Hour Day and other books.

You have talked with countless medical professionals, perhaps even some “experts.” Maybe you even took a Dementia Certification class.

Yet, you are having some real problems as a caregiver. Nothing seems to be working. The frustration and anger just keep building. You have no idea how long you can keep this up.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room

By Dr. Rita Jablonski


Despite all the materials that are “out there,” some people find that they can become better care partners much more quickly and efficiently with support and coaching from an expert. Here are some reasons why this may be a good idea.
  • Dementia is not one-size-fits-all. Absolutely not! First, there are many kinds of dementia. Some dementias, like the behavioral variation of frontotemporal dementia, start out with more behaviors than forgetfulness. Other dementias, like Lewy-Body Disease, have a pattern of up-and-down memory…so that it seems like the person with Lewy Body Disease is “doing this on purpose” (trust me, they are NOT!). You also have the added mix of personality!

    Many personality traits can be exaggerated by the dementia. The solid matriarch can become the tyrant who refuses to do anything. A skilled and compassionate expert in dementia care can help you enter the person’s reality by showing you how personality and disease simultaneously create the reality that the person with dementia is experiencing.
  • “I know she has dementia. How do I handle her?” Some blogs and book chapters may be helpful and may improve your understanding of the specific behaviors you are dealing with - but do these venues provide strategies for managing (and decreasing) the behaviors? Many do not. Many provide very general advice when a care partner needs much more direction. An expert dementia coach will listen to your situation and help you to “decode” the behaviors.
  • Care partners have different learning styles. I am a visual learner. I need to SEE something to understand and apply it. Other people learn by listening. All adults, however, learn best when they know the rationale for something, when they know WHY something will work.

    This knowing of the “why” behind the “what” helps adults to transfer knowledge and experience from one situation to a seemingly unrelated new experience. An expert dementia coach can explain the “why” of a behavior in such a way that you, the care partner, will have an epiphany about the behavior - and their meaning to a person with dementia.
  • Just because it is “on the internet” does not mean it is quality information. It is great to have the internet as a resource. But a care partner for a person with dementia may find themselves quickly overloaded with the quantity of information, and have difficulty discerning the quality of the information.

    It is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. An expert dementia coach with a strong foundation in neurobiology and intimate knowledge of the scientific literature around dementia care can help. He or she can provide you with high-quality, evidence-based, research-tested methods for decoding the puzzling behavior and helping you to adjust your own actions to avoid triggering future episodes of unwanted conduct.


  • Successful clinical experience working with people with dementia and their families. The longer the track record, the better.
    When I say “clinicians,” I refer to people who offer some type of direct, hands-on, clinical care.
    Clinicians include therapists, clinical psychologists, physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners. Nurses and nurse practitioners usually make the best dementia coaches because of their excellent patient-teaching abilities, and their overall knowledge regarding the impact of health, disease, and medications on memory and cognition. Beware of people with only degrees but no formal clinical practice.
  • Up-to-date knowledge of dementia from the scientific literature. Better yet, someone who is also a researcher (on top of being a clinician) has current knowledge of the literature AND a deep understanding of the various factors that can impact the development and progression of dementia.
    This is important because behavioral strategies that work are grounded in neurobiological principles.
  • BONUS: Experience as a care giver for someone with dementia. I have noticed that clinicians who have never been in the role of caregiver often come across as condescending, judgmental, or preachy.
    People who are caregivers need coaches who are sensitive and kind - and who “get it.”
  • What about dementia “certification?”
    I’ve examined various dementia certifications, and I know I am going to get some serious hate mail, but I am NOT impressed. I’ve looked at the curricula and all that is offered is generic information with very little practical application.
    In fact, I had a client who had gone through a dementia certification program. He told me that the certification provided zero information on how to really interact with a loved one who had dementia and who was argumentative and refused care. The only strategies he was taught were “distraction” and “leave her alone for 5 minutes, then come back.”


The best coaching sessions involve 2-3 family members so that everyone is on the same page. The group coaching also allows family members who reside in different cities, states, even countries, to come together and hear the same information. It is also the more cost-effective option, because the cost of a session can be shared by several people.

I use a video-conferencing program, Clickmeeting.com. Once we set up a day and time, you receive a link from me. You can check your computer’s compatibility using that link. You can also download the free app on a tablet or cell phone and use those devices. We will be able to see and hear each other. I offer ideas and suggestions based on your unique situation.


I am happy to speak with family care partners who want to explore this service with me. We can quickly determine if you will benefit.

As many of you may know from my frequent contributions to Alzheimer's Reading Room and my collaborations with Bob DeMarco, I’m a nurse practitioner with a research doctorate. My research is all about handling dementia-related behaviors without medications. You can find more information about the coaching by going to

DementiaCentric Solutions

This is not a paid advertisement. Dr. Rita Jablonski has earned the Alzheimer's Reading Room Gold Seal of Approval.

A Few of Rita's Articles

10 Commandments of Alzheimer's Caregiving

Sleep Medications for Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients

What to do when dementia patients cannot eat

CAREGIVER ALERT: The Connection Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Knowledge

5 Tips, How to get an Alzheimer's Patient to Shower

What is the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

How to Test Your Memory for Alzheimer's and Dementia (5 Best Tests)

Communicating in Alzheimer's World

Care of Dementia Patients

How to Embrace Reality in Dementia Care

Why Do People Living with Alzheimer's Want to Go Home?

Publisher Alzheimer's Reading Room
Author Rita Jablonski
June, 2018
Title: Dementia Care Coaching: An Option for Caregivers

The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the publisher of high quality expert content and news for the Alzheimer's and dementia community.

We help Alzheimer’s patients to live a better life. We accomplish this by providing excellent advice and practical solutions to the problems that caregivers face each day. Our solutions work and have been tested over time by millions of caregivers.

Need Help? Search Our Award Winning Knowledge Base for Answers to Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

About the Alzheimer's Reading Room