Roller-Coaster Caregiving: 5 Ways to Cope With Constantly Shifting Dementia-Care Needs

Don't blame yourself for feeling you can't get the hang of dementia care. One of the few certainties about dementia is that the ground keeps shifting for caregivers. Just when you adjust to a "new normal" routine or way of getting something done, a novel symptom renders it obsolete and forces you to figure out another way of getting through.

Each shift can feel like a new loss to mourn. To find the strength to keep going forward, try to channel that grief into action:

1. Brainstorm fresh solutions with members of a dementia support group or a social worker; they may help you see a fresh approach.

2. Post questions in online groups describing a new symptom or situation to hear what's worked for others.

3. Talk to friends to offload your frustration. It's actually good to talk about these feelings; even if your pal can't truly understand or relate to dementia care, he or she will be able to commiserate about how challenging life can sometimes be. You could even preface the talk by saying you're not looking for answers, only stress-release.

4. Refuse to be blocked by a new impediment; search for the way around it. Look up options in the Dementia Symptom guide.

5. Remember that there isn't such a thing as the perfect or even "correct" way to manage dementia care, precisely because there's so much change and so much individuality. You can only do the best you can do, and flexibility and creativity will help you achieve that goal.

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

almost 4 years, said...

What if it is jut not in your nature to cope and understand this disease? I cant seem to adapt to any of my mothers symptoms and we just end up arguing. I am so frustrated and feeling useless caring for her.

about 5 years, said...

Reassurance, concrete suggestions

over 6 years, said...

I benefited from learning that the symptoms keep changing. - creating the need to recreate a new normal. This has been my experience. My husband suffers from symptoms described by doctors as Traumatic Brain Injury induced Alzheimer's, Dementia, and now psychosis,- quite a mixture. I don't quite fit into any one type of support group.