Also known as: Caring for someone with dementia and Home care - dementia
- Help the person stay calm and oriented
- Make dressing and grooming easier
- Talk to the person
- Help with memory loss
- Manage behavior and sleep problems
- Have familiar objects and people around.
- Keep lights on at night.
- Use reminders, notes, lists of routine tasks, or directions for daily activities.
- Stick to a simple activity schedule.
- Watching for risk of choking and what to do if choking occurs
- How to increase safety in the home
- How to prevent falls
- Ways to improve bathroom safety
- Adult day care
- Boarding homes
- Nursing homes
- In-home care
- Adult protective services
- Community resources
- Local or state government departments of aging
- Visiting nurses or aides
- Volunteer services
Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
A loved one with dementia will need support in the home as the disease gets worse. You can help by trying to understand how the person with dementia perceives his or her world. Give the person a chance to talk about any challenges and take part in his or her own daily care.
Start by talking with your loved one's health care provider. Ask how you can:
Tips for reducing confusion in people with dementia include:
Taking regular walks with a caregiver can help improve communication skills and prevent wandering.
Calming music may reduce wandering and restlessness, ease anxiety, and improve sleep and behavior.
People with dementia should have their eyes and ears checked. If problems are found, hearing aids, glasses, or cataract surgery may be needed.
People with dementia should also have regular driving tests. At some point, it won't be safe for them to continue to drive. This may not be an easy conversation, so seek help from their provider and other family members. State laws vary on the ability of a person with dementia to continue to drive.
Supervised meals can help with feeding. People with dementia often forget to eat and drink, and can become dehydrated as a result. Talk to the provider about the need for extra calories due to increased physical activity from restlessness and wandering.
Also talk to the provider about:
The Alzheimer's Association's Safe Return Program requires people with dementia to wear an identification bracelet. If they wander, their caregiver can contact the police and the national Safe Return office, where information about them is stored and shared nationwide.
Eventually, people with dementia may need 24-hour monitoring and assistance to provide a safe environment, control aggressive or agitated behavior, and meet their needs.
A person with dementia may need monitoring and help at home or in an institution. Possible options include:
Many organizations are available to help you care for a person with dementia. They include:
In some communities, dementia-related support groups may be available. Family counseling can help family members cope with home care.
Advance directives, power of attorney, and other legal actions may make it easier to decide on care for the person with dementia. Seek legal advice early, before the person is unable to make these decisions.
Apostolova LG, DeKosky ST, Cummings JL. Dementias. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta MD, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 66.
Burns A, Iliffe S. Alzheimer's disease. BMJ. 2009;338:b158. PMID: 19196745 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19196745.
Knopman DS. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 409.
- Review date:
- November 04, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Daniel Kantor, MD, Kantor Neurology, Coconut Creek, FL and Immediate Past President of the Florida Society of Neurology (FSN). Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.