Skip to content
Older Woman and Young Woman Making Rectangle with their Hands-Dementia Care

Reorienting Thoughts and Responses in Dementia Care

If you are caring for someone living with dementia, you may sometimes hear them make statements or remarks that, to you, sound confusing, disconnected, or worrisome.” They may mention a spouse who has long since passed, call your children by your name, or panic because they’re late for work at a job they no longer have. They may sometimes be abrupt or say hurtful things such as criticizing your appearance or making socially inappropriate remarks to or about a stranger in public.

Hearing your parent or family member say these things can elicit many emotions. It can be easy to want to correct or argue with them— “You don’t work at the hospital anymore,” “Stop talking about that person!” It can also be easy to get frustrated, overwhelmed, or lose patience. 

When it comes to dementia care, a critical component is reorientation. Instead of following a gut reaction, by learning more about dementia you can retrain your responses. Your enhanced thoughts and perspectives will help you to create better and more effective responses that will contribute to both your parent’s and your comfort and joy.

Create a Sense of Safety

As a dementia care partner, you wear a lot of hats. You might be a housekeeper, chef, activity planner, and advocate—all while trying to maintain your relationship and your role as daughter, nephew, or friend. You might spend every day ensuring that your family member is cared for, engaged, and happy. 

And while they probably enjoy a home-cooked meal or a game of cards, the most important thing you can provide to your family member is a sense of safety. Hot meals and card games don’t matter as much when the person eating and playing them feels insecure, disoriented, or misunderstood. 

When dementia care is viewed from this perspective, it can influence how you react and respond to your family member. Take the following examples: 

  • If your parent asks for their spouse who is no longer around: Instead of thinking, “Oh, how sad. Mom doesn’t remember that Dad is no longer here,” reorient to, “They had such a special bond. Maybe the only time Mom felt truly understood was when she was with Dad. How can I make her feel understood and accepted the way that he did?” 
  • If your parent believes they still have their old career: Instead of responding with, “No, you don’t work there anymore,” realize that they might be bringing it up because their career made them feel confident and capable. Respond with, “You are really great at your job. What are some of your favorite parts about it?” By bringing this statement into the present tense, it affirms their reality and strengthens trust. 
  • If your parent accuses or judges a stranger in public: Instead of getting angry and thinking, “That was so rude and embarrassing.” change your perspective and orient yourself to their reality. They are in an overstimulating environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces. They might feel unsafe and are acting on that by making unknown strangers the target of their discomfort. In some cases, their unfiltered remarks may be a direct symptom of their form of dementia.  Several dementias cause damage or deficiency in the frontal lobe of a person’s brain that normally controls impulses and judgement.

When addressing your family member’s confusion, the most important thing is never to argue. Disagreeing with them, correcting them, or pointing out their mistakes can make them feel even more victimized and unsafe.

Arguing can be frustrating, draining, and, chances are, you’ll never win. So, instead of arguing, reorient yourself—put yourself in their shoes and imagine their reality. This can give you better insight into why they may be acting a certain way or saying a certain thing. When you begin to respond to something from their point of view, they will feel understood, respected, seen, and safe. 

You Can’t Control Dementia, Only Your Reaction to It 

Of course, it’s always important to remind yourself that dementia is a serious health condition, and your family member can’t control what is happening in their brain. They are not choosing to be disoriented, mistake names, or confuse times and dates. They are not choosing to act out in anger or frustration when they are in an unfamiliar place. And while they, and you, can’t control dementia, you can control how you react to it. 

For example, if your parent or family member is in their home and suddenly forgets where they are, put yourself in their place. Finding yourself in an unfamiliar setting, surrounded by furniture and art you don’t recognize, not knowing what time, day, or even year it is. Would you want someone to dismiss your confusion— “Oh, you’re just confused again. This is your home.” Or, would you want someone to ensure your safety first— “Hi, Mary, it’s okay that you’re frustrated. You’re safe in your home.” If they respond, “this isn’t my home!” then simply remain in their reality – “I’m sorry, I meant my home. I’ve just made something for dinner. Would you like to come and eat with me?”

By simply reorienting your reality and putting yourself in their shoes, you can make your family member feel safe, secure, and loved—the foundation of all dementia care. 

At Bella Groves, we care deeply about helping you feel more successful in your care of your loved one with dementia. Whether this means helping you to develop a care plan at home or simply learn more about your loved one’s dementia, please consider reaching out to us by phone (830) 323-0440, or email We created Bella Groves so that wherever you and your family are in your journey with dementia – start, middle, or end – you have someone to turn to.

Please visit our website to discover more about Bella Groves and our unique goals and care philosophy.


02-01-2022 Bella Groves

Understanding Challenging Expressions in a Person Living with Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia is a rewarding and intimate experience, creating a special bond between the care partner and care recipient. But we’d be lying (and anyone who has provided dementia care would know it) if we said there weren’t moments of frustration, exasperation, and confusion. 
03-01-2022 Bella Groves

5 Tips for Dealing with Family Conflicts While Providing Dementia Care

When a parent or family member is living with dementia, there are many things to consider. Depending on the number of people involved in the dementia care journey, different family members may have conflicting opinions about ongoing care and support.
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
© Bella Groves. All Rights Reserved.