Someone with Dementia

Things Not to Say to Someone with Dementia

Written by Kerry Lange

| 5 minutes
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Dementia is a condition that affects the brain, causing changes in memory, thinking, and behavior. It can be difficult for people living with dementia to deal with the comments and questions of well-meaning friends and family members. When caring for a loved one with dementia, it is important to remember that their emotions are just as real as yours. It can be challenging to see your loved one struggle with memory loss and confusion, but it is important to remember that they are still the same person inside.

Dementia can cause mood swings and changes in behavior, which can be difficult for caregivers to handle. It is important to be patient and understanding and remember that the person you are caring for is still there somewhere.

 So, here are some things not to say to someone with dementia.

1. “You’re just being forgetful.”

Dementia is not just being forgetful – it’s a serious condition that affects your ability to think, remember, and communicate. Telling someone that they’re just being forgetful only makes them feel like they’re doing something wrong or that they’re being lazy. It invalidates their experience and makes them feel like they’re losing their mind.

Instead, try to be understanding and patient – after all, dementia is a difficult condition to live with. Try saying something like, “I can see that you’re having a hard time remembering things. Can I help you?” This will show that you are validating their experience and trying to be helpful.

2. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

One of the most frustrating things about having dementia is the feeling that you’re being constantly misunderstood. Comments like “there’s nothing wrong with you”, or “you don’t look ill” can make you feel as if your condition is being dismissed or downplayed. It’s important to remember that dementia is a real, progressive illness – and should be treated as such.

If you know someone with dementia, try to be understanding and sensitive to their needs. Avoid making assumptions about their condition, and always speak to them with respect. And if you’re not sure what to say, just ask them how they’re feeling. Chances are, they’ll appreciate the gesture more than any words could ever express.

3. “You’re just getting old.”

It’s a common phrase, one that people often say to dismiss someone else’s memory loss or confusion. But if the person you’re saying it to has dementia, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It’s a degenerative disease that affects the brain, and it can happen to anyone at any age. So when you say “you’re just getting old” to someone with dementia, you’re invalidating their experience and minimizing their condition.

Just Getting Old

4. “It’s good that you don’t have to worry about anything anymore.”

Someone with dementia still has thoughts and feelings, and they are still capable of experiencing happiness and sadness.They are not relieved of the worry and stress that comes with life.They may have even more to worry about as their condition progresses. What they need is your support, not your pity, so telling them that they are lucky not to worry about anything anymore is dismissive and insensitive.

5. “It’s all in your head.”

This is probably one of the worst things you could say to someone with dementia. Dementia is a real, degenerative disease that affects the brain. It’s not something that can be simply fixed by thinking positively or snapping out of it.

Dementia is a real physical illness and should not be dismissed as being ‘all in someone’s head’. It implies that they are making up their symptoms or that they are crazy. Neither of which is true.

Its all in your head

6. Don’t Argue

It can be frustrating when someone with dementia doesn’t seem to understand what you’re saying. But arguing with them is the last thing you would want to do. Instead, try to stay calm and patient. Explain things in simple terms and offer choices whenever possible. And most importantly, don’t take anything they say personally. They’re not trying to be difficult, they’re just struggling to communicate.

Dementia can also make it hard for someone to remember things or understand what’s going on around them. If they say something that seems wrong, try to go along with the ride instead of getting into an argument. Being right doesn’t matter when you are talking to someone in this case. For instance, if they told you something you’ve never heard or seen or things that didn’t happen, you can just say you’d forgotten that. Let them express what they wanted to say and refrain from correcting their ideas.

7. “You’re better off not remembering.”

Some people with dementia may choose to forget certain parts of their life due to the distress it causes them. However, this is a personal choice and should not be decided for them by someone else. Telling them that they are better off not remembering is dismissive.

Instead of saying any of these things, try to communicate with the person in a respectful and understanding way. Ask them about their day, what they’re enjoying, or if there’s anything they need help with. Try to see things from their perspective, and be patient as they work to communicate with you.

Supporting Family Caregivers During Challenging Times

There are some things you can do to help make caring for a loved one with dementia easier:

·         Educate yourself about the disease and what to expect.

·         Make sure to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.

·         Create a family and friends support system to help you through the tough times.

·         Find ways to connect with your loved ones, even if they can no longer communicate verbally.

Family caregivers often struggle to manage their health and well-being despite this significant contribution while caring for a loved one. As a result, they can face challenges such as social isolation, financial insecurity, and physical and emotional stress.

CircleOf is designed by a team of experts in the field of caregiving. We created the app to offer unpaid family caregivers a variety of resources, including a care calendar that helps them track appointments and tasks, a messaging system that allows them to communicate with one another and with their loved ones receiving care, and a resource library with information on caregiving topics.

Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be demanding and stressful. So download the app and surround yourself with a community of care!

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