How to Manage Care for Seniors with Dementia: the Do's and Don'ts

Melanie Bacelisco | March 16, 2022

Melanie Bacelisco | March 16, 2022


How to Manage Care for Seniors with Dementia: the Do’s and Don’ts

Managing care for seniors with dementia takes a holistic approach. You can’t just focus on their mental health, but also physical, spiritual, social, and other aspects of care.

Dementia is one of the most common health conditions that significantly impact seniors. As daunting as it may seem, providing care for seniors with dementia isn’t that complicated — but you have to be more compassionate.

Do’s and Don’ts of Caring for a Senior With Dementia

On their Confusions

One of the most obvious symptoms of dementia is confusion that results in repetitive actions. 

If a senior loved one shows confusion in their behavior:


  • Answer their questions calmly and patiently, even if it’s repeated multiple times.

  • Recognize how they feel and give them time to think of their responses.

  • Introduce them to other people to help reduce their confusion.

  • Introduce other topics if they can’t move out of the same one.


  • Provide long answers that may confuse them even more.

  • Allow loud noises as people with dementia find it hard to filter out encompassing noises.

  • Provide them with all the instructions for something they need to do on their own at once. Walk them through step-by-step instead.

On Paranoia, Suspicion, and Poor Judgment

Seniors with dementia may show paranoia, suspicion, and/or poor judgment. If your aging mom’s wallet is missing, she may suspect you stole it. Seniors with cognitive impairment are also likely to get scammed online. Someone may persuade your mom to hand over their money to a stranger, and so on. 

In cases like these:


  • Investigate to find out the real issue for a potential scam.

  • Duplicate repeated missing items, such as wallets, keys, eyeglasses, etc.

  • Keep calm and evaluate the situation. Offer as much help as you can.

  • Listen and let them talk so you can understand their situation, regardless if it’s illogical.


  • Question their judgment as they may become defensive.

  • Argue or accuse them as it may worsen the issue.

  • Give long responses or questions as it may irritate them.

On their Aggression and Agitation

Many seniors with dementia become easily agitated on even the most superficial matters, such as not liking the food you served, refusing to take a bath or attending to their personal hygiene, and so on. They could even burst out in anger for no reason at all or even hurt themselves or others.

Here are what you should and shouldn’t do:


  • Try to find out the cause and remedy immediately as such behaviors have real reasons.

  • Distract them and redirect their attention to things or topics that make them happy.

  • Recognize their feelings or concerns and talk to them in a calming voice. Let them know you’re there to help.

  • Let the anger subside naturally, but keep watching over them, ensuring they don’t harm themselves or others.


  • Fight or argue with them as it may worsen the situation.

  • Take it personally. It’s not them personally. It’s dementia.

  • Try to stop or avoid physical contact until they have calmed down.

On Various Situations:

While seniors living with dementia may have similar behavioral symptoms, they also differ in many ways.

Here are the do’s and don’ts for various situations.


  • Talk to them face-to-face and at eye level at all times.

  • Laugh with them, not at them.

  • Pay attention to their body language.

  • Engage them in brief but frequent conversations.

  • Be patient, understanding, and respectful even in the most demanding scenarios.


  • Ask open-ended questions like “What would you like to eat?” Instead, offer choices – “Would you like chicken or beef?”

  • Make them guess the identity or name of the person they have forgotten. Instead, remind them who the person is.

  • Ignore their feelings. Instead, get to the bottom of it.

  • Don’t yell or raise your voice at them.

Final Thoughts

Caring for seniors with dementia takes a great deal of understanding, patience, and compassion, and not everyone is cut for it. Nevertheless, you can use these do’s and don’ts as your checklist or guide when conversing with your senior mom or dad with dementia.

More importantly, you don’t have to do all the caring tasks alone. You can hire a caregiver to provide care for a senior parent at home or consider assisted or memory care living options to make sure they receive adequate care.