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Imperfect, with Love

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which means it’s time to take a breath and consider ways to make the work of caregiving a reflection of our best efforts on behalf of those who suffer from this disease or other brain-related illnesses.


Caring for someone who has dementia is an act of tremendous love. Caregivers experience a range of emotions, many of them negative: grief, anger, guilt, and frustration are natural responses to a situation in which we have little control. People with dementia may also be grieving, angry, guilty, and frustrated. Some ways to help ease the daily frustrations that arise:

Lose the guilt. Guilt is a universal feeling, and caregivers take on more than their fair share. The situation you are in as a caregiver for someone with dementia is itself an increasingly difficult challenge for you both. Understand that doing your best does not mean being perfect, or always doing the right thing at the right time. Be imperfect, with love.

Get help for yourself and your loved one. If there are local day programs for people with dementia, see if one might be a good fit. This helps people with dementia be with others, socialize, and engage in ways that are beneficial and appropriate for their abilities. It also helps you have time to take care of other responsibilities or (maybe) sneak a nap.


Find humor. It might not be possible to laugh at dementia, but it is possible to laugh with it. Laughter is a stress reliever and a bonding behavior that provides both physical and emotional benefits. Whether it’s watching a funny movie, a favorite comedian, or just sharing joy over small miracles, humor gives back like nothing else.

Depend on routine. Routine provides assurance and comfort to people with dementia and to their caregivers as well. Develop a routine that reflects preferences of the person you are caring for. If possible, structure mealtimes, bedtime, and activities around their natural preferences. Be flexible and gentle with routine, as needs will change over time.

Communicate. Communication is more than words. Touch, music, and familiar pleasant scents can evoke emotion and enhance communication. Verbal communication benefits from eye contact and a smile. Avoid “elderspeak” (babytalk) and keep sentences simple in structure. Offer specific choices, such as “would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?” as opposed to “what would you like to wear?”


Caring for a person who has dementia means being flexible and open to new experiences. It will never be easy, and it may become impossible for you to continue to care for someone at home without significant help. Caregiver support groups, whether virtual or in-person, can be helpful during this time. Educating yourself about the many ways dementia affects our lives can also help with understanding the changes you are witnessing in the person you love. Please reach out to Enchanted Sky Hospice if you would like to talk. There is never a charge for consultation.

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