How to Offer Choices to Someone With Moderate-Stage Dementia

Limiting the kinds of choices someone with moderate-stage dementia needs to make -- and adjusting the way you offer them -- helps reduce anxiety. As immediate memory and organized thinking skills are lost, decision making becomes stressful, even over simple things. If you ask, "Do you want ice cream or pudding?" for example, the person will usually pick the last word heard (pudding).

What works better?

  • Offer a choice, but say the answer you think the person prefers last: "Do you want the blue sweater or your favorite red one?"

  • Simply make the choice for the person: "Here's your ice cream."

  • Lower stress even more by completely avoiding challenging, open-ended choices, such as "What do you want to do today?"


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