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My grandparent has dementia. How do I deal with this? What can I expect?

22 Answers
Last Updated: 05/04/2020 at 2:57am
1 Tip to Feel Better
South Africa
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Claudette Pretorius, MA Counselling Psychology

Licensed Professional Counselor

I know how overwhelming it can feel when you're having a tough time. I offer clients a space that is non-judgemental and empathetic whilst navigating these times together.

Top Rated Answers
November 19th, 2014 3:01pm
Dementia symptoms vary but usually include a loss of memory, difficulties in communicating, and personality changes. If you love your grandparent, and I am sure you do, seeing him decline in these ways will be very challenging and you may find that you feel helpless and sad. These reactions are normal. Joining an Alzheimer's disease or dementia support group can help you cope with your feelings and can be very beneficial. Regarding your grandparent, the best approach to helping him is to be a good listener, be supportive and positive, and reassure him that he can still enjoy life regardless of the changes he is experiencing.
December 22nd, 2014 2:25pm
The most important thing to remember about verbal or physical aggression is that your grandparent is not doing it on purpose. Aggression from dementia is usually triggered by something—often physical discomfort, environmental factors such as being in an unfamiliar situation, or even poor communication. This is what you have to expect. Harsh responses. You have to try to cope with him, understand him, don't let yourself be offended or hurt; there are his mood swings.
November 2nd, 2014 11:35pm
Make the most of the times when they are lucid. Spend as much time with them as you can spare, particularly in the mornings- dementia is often much worse later in the evening when the sufferer is tired. Ask them to tell you stories about their past. Most people say that the thing they regret the most is not spending time with them whilst they're still lucid. Of course there are going to be bad times and good times, and it does get worse as time goes on. Getting support from and supporting your family can be very important in the bad times.
November 30th, 2014 9:19am
What people call "dementia" is not one condition, but a cluster of many related conditions. It can occur with Parkinson's Disease, AIDS, or as the result of a traumatic brain injury, but it most commonly occurs with Alzheimer's Disease. To know more about what to expect, find out what condition your grandparent has that causes dementia, because symptoms and prognosis can vary widely. In general, people with dementia suffer from severe memory problems, can be very disoriented, cease to recognize loved ones and familiar places, and have challenges caring for themselves. Whatever happens, don't take it personally if your grandparent doesn't recognize you. Avoid arguing and trying to reason with a person with dementia. Avoid treating them like a child. They may be confused, but they still deserve respect and dignity. Learn to respond to the emotions behind what your loved one says, not the facts. For instance, if they say they refuse to take a bath because they don't want to drown, they might really be trying to say that they want their privacy, or they're frightened, or even that they're afraid the bath will be too hot or too cold. Therefore, don't think of seemingly random things the person says as nonsense, but instead view them as attempts to communicate with you. There are many professionals, such as occupational therapists, who can help you with advice on how to help your loved one live as happily and independently as possible. If you are a caregiver, get as much additional support as you can.
February 22nd, 2016 6:21am
Here's what you can expect. Dementia never ends pretty. People that have dementia usually end up motionless in a chair in a hospital room, not recognizing anyone that comes through. It sucks to watch someone you love go through that. It stresses the caretakers out a lot. But you must remain positive. Your loved one is still there. Talk to them and treasure them while they still know your name.
December 3rd, 2014 8:09pm
My grand mother had dementia. I am not going to lie it was very hard to deal with. It was like somedays she lived back in her past and did not know us. other days she was fine.
November 9th, 2015 10:44pm
There will be times when they can't remember who you are or what your name is, just remember that no matter what, they will always love you. The best thing is to try and not get fristrated with them as you will only upset yourself more. Try and be accepting of whatever happens and just remember all the happy times. Go through some photo albums with them to help them remember, it will help both of you out to go over the past.
March 21st, 2016 8:39pm
My grandpa has dementia and it won't be as bad as Alzheimer's, but he will forget where's their at sometimes. Sometimes they'll think that they're in a certain place because their mind is tricking them.
September 26th, 2017 10:42pm
It's challenging. Especially when reaching the point when your grandparent is not able to remember you anymore. But you can't do much against it. You can keep your grandparent in Training with quizzes and puzzles but.. Just show that person love and try to make the house/flat save. When the person gets out and doesn't find a way back for example. Or the person leaves the oven burning... Be careful and be there. Make him/her remember the positive things as long as possible.
November 23rd, 2014 1:25pm
A caregiver once shared how his son coped with a grandparent who would repeatedly ask the grandson whether he had eaten. The grandson would smile and tell the grandparent that yes, he had eaten, and show a spoon as proof (he carried a spoon in his pocket when at home :) ). Then he’d ask the grandparent whether she had eaten, and the grandparent would look content…till she asked the question again. Okay, so this approach may not work for everyone, but it shows that remaining calm and showing some creativity works sometimes, and is worth striving for. At least some of the problems may reduce this way.
December 16th, 2014 8:21pm
You know, it is happening in my family also. I've seen my grandmother gradually losing her independence and capacities. It was kinda depressing. My father says she is not able to do anything for herself anymore and behaves like a small child. I deal with her loving her no matter what, knowing her limitations and respect them. I'm glad that she is still alive. I've accepted that currently there's no cure and maybe she's not getting better from her mental state, but I believe she can have some quality of life yet and I will help her in it.
December 28th, 2014 9:24am
Remember the good times and be there for them, it will hurt at times but they need to have someone there that they love. Their mind may start to slip, usually slowly at first, but with medications it is possible to delay or prevent the worst of it. They may forget simple things such as if they ate today or if they took any medicines that they may have. They can forget names or their children which is often in the later stages of it. That for most is the most difficult part of it all. It is best to realize that they can not help it and understand that unfortunately this may become normal for them to do. Be their for your grandparents and your family as this will be a difficult time for all you who are involved.
January 2nd, 2015 2:59am
You can expect him to forget who people are, or what time in his life he's experiencing. Patients with dementia can become confused, but they're still themselves. Just be reassuring and tell him what's going on if he is having a bad time. Dementia frequently comes and goes, so you can still enjoy being with him during his lucid times -- and love him when he's not having a good day, too.
March 14th, 2015 9:07pm
as a former carer of dementia patients i understand it can be very difficult to see such a change in someone, especially a loved one. it is important to understand that they are still the same person. things are bound to be different, their behaviour can change as well as the effects it has on memory but they are still the same person and the best way is to provide lots of patience and understanding. it may be worth doing some research into dementia or speaking to other family members about it
July 13th, 2015 8:59pm
You should probably do your research online to see what you should expect. Remember to give support.
September 26th, 2016 8:55pm
Everyone deals with it differently. I have found in working with patients with dementia that they also have a hard time going through it. How you deal with it, will also determine how they deal with it a bit. Being positive and understanding when they are forgetful can make a world worth of difference. Remember who they were, and love them for who they are now. It is a rough thing to watch, but being loving will help a lot.
October 3rd, 2016 7:56pm
It's important to remember that this is still your grandparent and should be treated with dignity and respect. They will have memory loss and ask the same questions multiple times. Try to be patient and know this is the same person you have known and loved, albeit with some medical issues.
July 3rd, 2017 9:47pm
Dementia is certainly a complex illness. You can find a support group for family members of people with dementia!
August 21st, 2017 9:57pm
We can only go through with it. We have to be strong in order to keep them strong. It may be tough. But it's all we can do. Show your grandparent your love. Daily be there for them. Even if they can't remember you. Re-tell them anyways. Times will be difficult. But like I said, you have to stay strong.
October 16th, 2017 1:58am
Sorry to hear about that, dementia is not an easy thing to face by the person them self and by the person who is taking care of them. You have to be very patient and strong as the person who is taking care of them. With age they will be more difficult and harder to take care of.
October 24th, 2017 10:03am
My mom has dementia so it’s common on certain days she will talk in a way that seems senseless, bringing up the past, complaining and memory loss or lapses in memory is common. She tends to argue and claim that she is right. The best thing to do is to stay calm and not argue back. When I feel angry that she keeps blaming me or my wife, I leave the room, take deep breaths and then come back after sometime. Dementia is temporary so if you just wait then your grandparent will get over it. I also suggest giving them something to pass their time and help their memory like games on an iPad or cellphone, watching tv also helps distract and they forget and get over their mood swings.
May 4th, 2020 2:57am
You will have to be patience with them. There's gonna be time they forget how to do simple stuff, but becoming frustrated with the issue is not going to help but make may make matter worse. The person you caring for is affected by brain disorder, which shapes who they're. The more you try to control their behaviour, the more likely you will face with resistance. So if you haven'nt meet a professional regarding the case, you should. Time can be hard with someone you love suffering from dementia. If things are feeling overwhelm, you can try reminiscing about the good old days with your grandparent! Remembering the good old days can be soothing and affirming. Most people with dementia cannot remember events from an hour ago. However, they usually can recall major events from their distant past.