11 Things to Avoid in Your Dementia Caregiver Journey

Dementia is a challenging journey, not only for the person experiencing it but also for their caregivers. If you’re a caregiver for a family member with dementia, you’re already familiar with the ups and downs, the heartaches, and the rewarding moments that come with the territory. In this blog post, I will share with you 11 things to avoid during your dementia caregiver journey, drawing from real-life experiences. 

Here Are the 11 Things to Avoid in Your Dementia Caregiver Journey

1. Avoid Asking Too Many Open-Ended Questions About the Past

Keep questions simple and specific for people with dementia

Imagine this: you’re sitting with your loved one, and you’re eager to learn more about their past. While it’s natural to be curious, it’s essential to avoid asking too many open-ended questions. These can be overwhelming and frustrating for someone with dementia. Instead, try to use questions that require short, concrete answers. For example, rather than asking, “Tell me about your childhood,” you might ask, “Did you have any favorite games as a child?”

2. Don’t Nag Them

Nagging people with dementia can increase their stress, confusion, and resistance

Nagging is never helpful, and it’s no different when caring for someone with dementia. If they forget to do something or repeat themselves, resist the urge to nag or correct them. Remember, their memory is not what it used to be, and scolding them won’t help. Patience is your most valuable tool in these situations.

3. Don’t Make Them Feel Helpless

Empower people with dementia by offering simple choices

Independence is vital for anyone’s self-esteem, including those with dementia. Avoid doing things for them when they can still do them independently. Of course, safety should always be the top priority, but if they can brush their teeth or dress themselves, let them do it with minimal assistance. This preserves their dignity and self-worth.

4. Don’t Talk to Them Like They Are a Child Unless They Like It That Way

It’s crucial to adapt your communication style to their preferences. Some individuals with dementia may feel comforted by a more childlike approach, while others prefer to be spoken to as adults. The key is to be flexible and observe their reactions. If they respond positively to a more childlike tone, by all means, use it, but if not, treat them with the respect they deserve.

5. Don’t Teach Them About Dementia; Talk to Them as if They Don’t Have a Problem

While it’s essential to be aware of the challenges dementia presents, avoid constantly reminding them about their condition. Instead, engage in regular conversations about everyday topics. Focus on their interests and what brings them joy. This can provide a sense of normalcy and keep their spirits high.

6. Don’t Correct Them or Teach Them the Right Way; Be Patient, and They Will Learn

Avoid correcting people with dementia

When they make mistakes or say things that don’t make sense, refrain from correcting them. Correcting can lead to frustration and embarrassment. Instead, listen attentively and, if necessary, gently redirect the conversation or activity without drawing attention to the error. Over time, they may naturally improve.

7. Remember That They Are Your Family Member; Don’t Remove Them from Family Gatherings

Always show love, patience, and understanding to people with dementia

Dementia should not be a reason to exclude your loved one from family gatherings. It’s even more important to include them. Adapt the environment to their needs – ensure there’s a quiet space if they become overwhelmed and introduce them to others with patience. Being part of family events can bring them joy and comfort.

8. Don’t Make Them Feel Like a Bad Apple in the Basket (Basket Being Your Family)

It’s easy to become frustrated when dealing with the challenges of dementia, but remember that your loved one is still part of your family, just like they’ve always been. Avoid singling them out or making them feel like they don’t belong. Be inclusive and make efforts to maintain the family bond.

9. Even If Something Weird Happens, Make It Seem Normal (Things Like Cleaning After Them Should Seem Normal)

Treat them with respect and kindness, as if everything is normal

Dementia can lead to unpredictable behavior, which might seem unusual or even embarrassing at times. It’s essential to stay calm and not react negatively. If they spill food or forget where the bathroom is, handle it discreetly and without making a fuss. This helps maintain their dignity and reduces potential embarrassment.

10. Don’t Make Them Feel Incompetent

While dementia can limit cognitive abilities, it doesn’t mean that your loved one is entirely incapable. Avoid doing everything for them and making them feel incompetent. Encourage them to engage in activities they can still manage independently, even if it takes a bit longer.

11. Don’t Disclude Them from Family Decision-Making Meetings

Involve people with dementia in family decisions

Even as dementia progresses, your loved one’s opinions and preferences still matter. Don’t exclude them from discussions about their care or major family decisions. Even if they can’t fully comprehend or contribute, their presence in such meetings can provide a sense of inclusion and respect.


Caring for a family member with dementia can be emotionally taxing, but it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your love and support profoundly. The journey is filled with challenges, but by avoiding these 11 common pitfalls, we can make it a bit smoother. Remember, it’s about preserving their dignity, making them feel valued, and keeping the bonds of family intact.

As a caregiver, what challenges have you faced in your journey? What strategies have you found effective in providing care for your loved one with dementia? Please share your experiences and insights in the comments section.

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