When someone we love is diagnosed with dementia, we are all living with dementia. It can be a scary and confusing time as everyone learns to adjust. You may want to learn all you can about the disease and what to expect. But most of all, you want to discover how to live with dementia and make the most out of every day.

There are many forms of dementia, including those that result from illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and chronic alcoholism. Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) has become more familiar in recent years due to celebrities like Robin Williams while Bruce Willis and his family are shining the light on Frontotemporal Dementia.

family with dementia

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term that describes the loss of intellectual functions such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning that are severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life. Forgetting the name of a person you know, or the phone number of your best friend is not a sign of dementia. Forgetfulness due to aging or increased stress is common as people grow older and is not necessarily a cause for alarm.

Other Related Dementias

Vascular dementia

Frontotemporal dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

Is Alzheimer’s Disease the Same as Dementia?

Alzheimer’s Disease is characterized by early memory impairment, followed by language and perceptual problems. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. Florida has the country’s second-highest number of people diagnosed, about 580,000. That number is expected to rise to around 720,000 by 2025 and does not include other forms of dementia.

Are There Signs of Dementia?

Dementia in any form has signs and symptoms that are common among those affected. From poor judgment to the inability to carry out simple tasks or follow directions, dementia progresses from mild to complete impairment over a period of time. While each experience may have similarities, every experience is unique to the individual living with dementia.

Signs & Symptoms

Memory loss (short & long term)


Loss of reasoning

Inability to learn new things

Personality changes

Is Dementia Always Irreversible?

There are health conditions that can mimic the symptoms of dementia but are treatable. It is important to consult your physician or mobile medical provider as soon as you notice symptoms in yourself or a loved one. For example, depression can look like dementia due to the individual appearing confused, forgetful, or without initiative to complete daily tasks.

Conditions that Mimic Dementia



Reactions to medication

An older individual can appear very confused when they have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or respiratory infection. If the confusion is sudden and seems to come on without warning, this could mean that there is a reversible condition that needs to be addressed promptly. Schedule an appointment with your medical provider as soon as possible to rule out any treatable conditions when you notice sudden changes in behavior, such as confusion.

reminiscing with dementia

Tips for Communicating with Someone with Dementia

Communicating with an individual diagnosed with dementia is different at each stage but always rooted in kindness and patience. There is a common saying – “The person with dementia isn’t giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time” – and it is so very true. For everyone living with dementia, the diagnosed and the caregiver, it is important to take time away from each other to give space, allow rest, and reduce feelings of burnout.

When you hear someone repeating the same question over and over, it can create anxiety for both the caregiver and the individual with dementia. Create cue cards with the most common questions written on them and write the answer to the question on the back of the card. Punch a hole in the corner of the card and clip them together with a key ring – this allows your loved one to carry the questions around and soothe themselves by reading and answering their own questions. Repetitive questions can be just one  reason for caregiver frustration – taking time away helps replenish patience.

Early-Stage Communication

Communicating in the early stages of dementia is all about patience. It is important to slow down, use specific words, and focus on one topic at a time. Hurried decisions and quickly changing subjects will be very frustrating for both the caregiver and the individual with dementia at this stage. Encourage continued communication in a loving manner and let the person with dementia make decisions and remain involved.

Middle-Stage Communication

The middle stage often requires communicating through the senses. Help your loved ones process what they see in the world around them through touch, smell, hearing, and taste. Music, smelling bread baking, and gentle touch such as hair brushing or feeling textures that are pleasant will help keep the lines of communication open. Remain open to what is being said – even when it doesn’t make sense or isn’t correct. There is no upside to arguments with an individual diagnosed with dementia.

Late-Stage Communication

Smiles and soft touch are the main forms of connecting in the late stages of dementia. Speak warmly, quietly, and with eye contact. Include them in your conversation even when they can no longer respond and avoid “baby talk.” Above all – smile – after all else is lost, a smile can bring calmness and joy.

Positive Greetings at Any Stage


Say the person’s name.

Make a positive comment.

Meaningful Activities for a Person with Dementia

Activities can be adapted for people in all stages of dementia. The most important element of any activity is engaging with the person. From ability-adjusted exercise to pet therapy and reminiscing, it can all be good fun for the diagnosed individual and the caregiver. Short activities that don’t require a lot of preparation or supplies are often the most successful.

Music and Dance. We all have a party in our pockets just waiting to be let out! Our cell phones can access the music they love and have their bodies moving in no time. Talk about the high school dance or the first dance at their wedding. If they are unable to verbally communicate, tell them about your high school days, play songs from your childhood, and show them a dance move or two.

Reminiscing. Whether you talk about cars, fashion, or movie stars, Google is your best friend! Pull out your laptop and share pictures from popular websites or from photo albums stored on your computer. Historical events, travel, and even kitten and puppy videos can be pathways to conversation or even a simple smile.

You are Not Alone

From diagnosis to living with dementia, the diagnosed individual and all who love them dearly will need patience and time for self-care. No one has to experience this journey alone and asking for help is an incredibly brave and kind thing to do for everyone living with dementia. As you learn to live with dementia, consider the resources that are available to support all who are affected by this long walk.

woman with dementia

Private Duty Home Care is a wonderful resource for seniors living with dementia. From help with household tasks to being present while a caregiver takes a much-needed break for the afternoon, a private duty caregiver can support families living with dementia. A private duty caregiver isn’t just for hands-on care – they can make magic happen and keep joy alive in the home.

The way they care for individuals with dementia and support family caregivers to help keep them safe at home are a big reason why Private Duty Home Care is a Resource We Love. Have a senior loved one who could benefit from more meaningful activities? Call Champion Home Health Care: Private Duty, Brevard County, FL, at (321) 608 – 3838 for information on how a private caregiver can create personalized activities to enhance the life of your loved one, wherever they may live