10 Alternative Ways to Say "No" to Someone With Dementia

Yes, it's hard to have to say "no" a lot. Of course, there are good reasons to feel you must do so. People with moderate-stage dementia often want to do things that are unsafe or beyond their current abilities, or that are simply inappropriate, ill-timed, or infeasible. And they lack the cognitive wherewithal to understand that these wishes aren't always possible. Your goal: to preserve an upbeat, encouraging mood while still managing to set the limits the situation demands.

Here are 10 alternatives to "no" that you can try weaving into your vocabulary:

  • I wish we could!

  • Wouldn't that be nice?

  • That's a good idea; let's try to plan something for later.

  • Would you really like to do that? I didn't know that about you.

  • I think it's too hot/cold/wet today.

  • That sounds like fun for next time.

  • That's an interesting idea to think about.

  • Oh, I can just imagine that.

  • Really? You have so much energy/enthusiasm/imagination/curiosity.

  • I think I'd be more comfortable doing X; sound good?


Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio