Dementia Caregiving: Make Your Words and Emotions Match to Get Your Message Across

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"Congruent care" is a concept borrowed from geometry, where "congruency" refers to two things that are the same size and shape. In Alzheimer's care, it refers to making your words and your emotions match.

Your loved one's ability to perceive intent by reading your emotions is surprisingly long-lasting. You'll stay better connected to him or her (and you'll find caregiving goes much more smoothly) if your messaging is consistent.

Here are some dos and don'ts of this idea in action.

  • Don't calmly say, "It's time for your bath" while physically tugging the person up from a chair.
  • Do say, "Take your time" slowly and with a smile, rather than with a trace of impatience or while tapping your foot.
  • Don't grit your teeth and roll your eyes while saying, "Oh, no, I don't mind doing that."
  • Do accompany a loving "good night" with a smile and a gentle hug.

Read on for more tips about communicating with a loved one who has dementia:

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

about 5 years, said...

Thank you for the reminder about matching words and actions. It is something we need to do all our lives - children learn by action, then words, and then matching the two, so if we practiced this throughout all our lives, what a better world it would be. Kind of like the saying "Be the change you want to see". I love the articles, and although the scrolling ads are annoying, they keep this site free - one less burden for us caregivers!

almost 6 years, said...

Your annoying ad scrolls detract from the information on the's the one about residences for future....I'm gone!

about 6 years, said...

Aaaaagh, I was just typing a reply to you 'bad son', and it disappeared! I wonder how I can give you my email address, without giving it to everyone else too? The Lord is definitely my shepherd and don't know where I would be without him. Nevertheless, I still need the Diazepam to keep me from blowing my fuses when I go to my mum. Sometimes we have nice times together, but I don't get as much help in her flat with cleaning as I would like and I always have to start cleaning when I get there. Social services only provide one hour help a week in that department.

about 6 years, said...

Hi HollyCat, I read your post and I thought it was my life. I totally understand. Only difference is I've been dry since '92 and I absolutely can't do Diazepam....soooooo, I pray a lot and try to exercise as often as I can. Listen, I want you to know that your bitterness will eat you alive and cause you eventual physical problems. Please know that you are loved deeply by God and that "kids" like us will never be good enough for parents like ours. It's very sad but NOT OUR FAULT! I see my mom and I'm grateful that she changed my diapers and cared for me when I was ill, but she was hell on wheels and I left home for the service when I was very young. She drove my sister into mental health issues and I stepped in to take over about 11 years ago. It has been very difficult, and It seems to be getting a little easier because she forgets what lights my fuse. Anyway, please know I prayed for you today.

over 6 years, said...

It sounds so easy reading the statements. It is much harder to be consistant I get so tired of being the man of the house I guess because at one time he did the repairs and fixing and running out to get thing , taking him to all his appointments. Even to going for gas. I thought he could hang two pictures. They still sit there a month later. I will try to be more patient

over 6 years, said...

It just told me that I sometimes do do just the things I should not do. I DO get irritated. My mother has never been easy or laid back. I think it is harder for me to care for and help my own mother than for a stranger. I know how manipulative she can be, even now in her old age and even through the Alzheimers. I have to take Diazepam sometimes because she winds me up so much. She really controls me and my entire life and I feel very bitter, even though she does regularly say that she appreciates my care. I love my mum,because she's my mum, but I don't like her. I don't like myself sometimes. I resent going to my mum, each time I go. . .because I HAVE to go. I cannot not go. I have no life of my own. I wish she was physically ill than mentally ill, I could handle that better. I am no good with mental stuff. My mother has always been neurotic and a manipulater. I love her because she is my mum.

over 6 years, said...

Hello KathleenW, Thank you very much for your comment. If you'd like, you can post any questions you have in our Ask & Answer section here: ( ). I hope that helps! Take care -- Emily | Community Manager

over 6 years, said...

I like the concept of "congruent care." Is this a new descriptor? Where can I find out more information about this?