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Caring for a Loved One With Dementia

by Rania Combs

As Americans live longer, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is on the rise. I read recently that the incidence of people with Alzheimer’s doubles for every five years past age 65, and that a recent study showed that one in seven people over age 70 has some type of dementia.

The New York Times recently published an article about caring for loved ones with dementia, and provides some helpful information about how to best respond to the confusion and delusions that often accompanies this disease.

Rather than pointing out the errors of your loved ones and correcting them, the article suggests that caregivers refocus and redirect them. Because of the brain damage caused by the disease, trying to correct them when they are confused only causes distress. So for example:

When a person with dementia says she is waiting for her husband to come pick her up, it’s not helpful to say, however gently, “He died 10 years ago, remember?” Better to respond with, “I’m sure he’ll be along any minute. Meanwhile, why don’t we walk outside and see the flowers/look at the photos in this book/have some ice cream?”

For other helpful tips about caring for a loved one with dementia, visit the Family Caregiver Alliance by clicking here.


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