HOW TO: 3 tips for keeping them engaged while you get other tasks done


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!

“It sounds bad, but I can’t get anything done with my wife around,” Walter sighed. “She wants to ‘help,’ but I end up having to re-do her task or just stand over her shoulder the whole time, helping her do whatever it is.”

I’ve heard this story many, many times over. You want your loved one with dementia to be engaged and active, but you also don’t want to be doing 99% of the task yourself. And, more than anything, you want to get your own chores and errands done…but it’s tough when you have someone needing your attention 24/7.

The holidays are an especially challenging time when it comes to providing care for someone living with dementia. 

Let’s review my best 3 tips for getting someone out of your hair (in the nicest way possible!) while still keeping them happy and feeling successful:

  1. Set them up for success. This takes a little more time for you on the “front end,” but provides a lot of extra time saved on the back end. Find a task that is easy, repetitive, and doesn’t require any special or particular outcome. A good example would be folding towels or making a salad. When it’s done, it’s done, and it doesn’t need to look a particular way as long as the towels can fit in the cabinet and the salad has the ingredients in the bowl. 
  2. Ask them for help, and then let them do the task by stepping away. “Can you help me with…?” you ask. When they begin, step away. Encourage them. It may take a few tries to make this work so that they feel comfortable and confident. Your loved one may feel, at the start, that they “don’t know how” or are afraid to make a mistake.
  3. Don’t worry about the outcome. It’s all about the experience of doing the thing and the opportunity for you to have a break. Praise your loved one’s finished project, no matter what it looks like. 

Then, repeat. It could take a few tries to perfect this. Don’t give up.

Sign up for my blog emails here!

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!