How to Gain a Sense of Control Over Dementia

Hopelessness is a strong -- and strongly poisonous -- emotion for caregivers. Unfortunately, it's also a perfectly natural response to the relentless march of dementia. The way to combat a sense of losing hope is by gaining control.

A few ideas about how to do this:

  • First, realize that there are many choices within dementia care. Every symptom, for example, can be handled in a multitude of ways. There may not be a perfect solution, or one that turns things back to how they once were, but at least there's usually some way to respond that helps you feel like you're doing something and improving matters for you and your loved one.

  • Address troublesome emotions by talking to a trusted friend or a trained counselor and by writing them out in a secret journal or to a circle of other caregivers in online community posts. The basic act of "naming" your feelings and problems helps you to gain mastery over them, psychologists know.

  • Do one positive thing for yourself each day. Whether big (arrange to get away for an hour by yourself) or small (buy yourself flowers at the supermarket), every act of self-kindness puts you on a path toward, not away from, hope.

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