When a relative doesn’t “get it” that a loved one has dementia


Have more questions and don't know where to turn?

Join our community and get access to monthly support calls, an online chat forum for questions, and even monthly 1:1 calls with Rachael! CLICK HERE for more information.

Are you enjoying my blog posts? Grab a free download of one chapter from my audiobook here and also receive any future helpful tips and posts right to your inbox!

Let’s pretend you have four siblings. You and three of your siblings understand that mom has dementia. You get it: you have been changing the way that you speak to her. You’ve been adjusting her care accordingly. You’ve been teaching dad about Embracing Her Reality and how to avoid an argument. You guys have been kicking butt with keeping everything positive. 

Aaaaaaand, then there’s your one brother. He’s not on board. In fact, he’s way off-board. He’s mad, he’s confused, he’s frustrated, and every time he comes into town he yells at mom, makes lists and charts for her, and demands that everyone start following his lead. “Mom is just a little forgetful!” he yells at you and your siblings. “We have to REMIND her that her dog died! Every time she asks, we need to remind her that the dog is dead.”

For nearly every family of care partners I meet, there’s ONE person who just. doesn’t. get. it. 

And this is hard on everyone else, because here’s the problem: he may never “get it.” You can hit him with all the education in the world. I often jokingly say to families who ask me about a relative like this, “Send him a copy of my book!” but I do mean it as a joke, because, in all truth, I know this guy isn’t going to read it. 

Dementia care is really hard. It’s tough to teach because there’s never a one-size-fits-all answer to a lot of questions. So here’s my advice for dealing with that one relative who just doesn’t get it: do your best, and lead by example. When I teach, I find that stories and examples work best. 

You can only do your best. That’s it. If he’s open to information, that’s great: maybe he’ll check out my blog or another resource on positive dementia care and learn something. But if he’s not? All you can do is press forward, and, hopefully, avoid his counsel when it comes to big care decisions. 

Liked it? Take a second to support Rachael Wonderlin on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

16 things poster
Get the FREE “16 Things” poster!

You're not alone!

Get personal support from Rachael and connect with other Caregivers when you join our community.

16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia

Get the FREE “16 Things” poster for your personal use—or better yet—your dementia care community’s staff break room!

I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.

When you sign up, you’ll also get access to Rachael’s weekly newsletter so that you can get her top tips, links to new content as soon as it’s released, and special offers directly in your inbox! We’ll never sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

16 things poster
Shopping Cart

Have questions?

Book a Dementia Detective
call and talk to a DBD expert!