HF 5266

Self-care: Caring for a Person Living with Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia is stressful. You might have different feelings as you take care of your loved one. These feelings are normal and might include:

  • Worry: You may worry about the future and how you will cope with being a caregiver.

  • Anger: You may feel angry that your loved one has dementia and there is no cure. Angry at other family members for not helping more.

  • Lonely: It may seem like few people understand your problems.

  • Tired: You may feel like you are not getting enough sleep. You may feel too tired to do all the things you want to do in a day.

  • Sad: You may feel sad that your loved one has changed.

  • Guilt: You may feel that you are not doing enough to help your loved one.

It is okay to feel these feelings. This is a major life change for you, your loved one, and your family. However, if these feelings make it hard for you to take care of your loved one and yourself, talk toa trusted healthcare provider. You are not alone.

Tools to Reduce Stress

Learn about dementia. Read books, attend workshops, or support groups. Look at online resources (see Resources section, below). Talk to your loved one’s care team.

Review or complete financial and legal documents. It helps to make these plans when your loved one can still help with the decisions.

Find things to do that you and your loved one enjoy. Focus on what your loved one can still do, rather than what your loved one can no longer do.

Plan time off every week to focus on you. Use the time to do something you enjoy.

Get Help

Few caregivers can handle it alone. Identify support persons and arrange for help as soon as you can. If you wait until you are very tired, you may find it hard to recover. Take care to prevent burnout.

If you want to provide direct care most of the time, let others help with simple tasks such as cooking, errands, or getting your car fixed.

Talk with other people about your needs and concerns so they can help. Think about going to a support group. Meeting other families who are also caring for a loved one with dementia can be very helpful.


Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). Find locations here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/adrc/index.htm.

Alzheimer’s Research on Caregiving:

The Alzheimer’s Association
1-800-272-3900 or www.alz.org.

Alzheimer’s Documentary Series (PBS)