Give yourself a break: dementia care takes practice


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I’ve had a lot of people over the years say to me, “Wow! Dementia care? You must be really patient!” 

This is actually kind of funny to me, because one of the last ways I’d describe myself is “patient.” One of the main reasons I don’t want to work for someone else is because I can’t stand when things take a long time to accomplish. The corporate world is all about having meetings about having meetings about deciding things in a meeting. I can’t handle it.

Needless to say, I am not a patient person, albeit in ONE area of my life: dementia care.

I am incredibly patient with people who are living with dementia. Even so, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve said the wrong thing, made the wrong choice, and upset a person living with dementia here or there.

It’s going to happen: you’re going to do the wrong thing. And that’s okay.

Dementia care takes practice.

I like to tell people that it’s an art form. Most of us didn’t get really good at painting, playing an instrument, performing on stage, or doing anything else just by waking up and magically being great at it. Most of us have worked years at our craft, honing it, learning, experiencing, practicing. Dementia care is the same way.

So, give yourself a break.

Maybe you said the wrong thing yesterday. Maybe you yelled at your loved one with dementia this morning because he asked (again) what time it was. These things happen.

You’re doing the best that you can. And you’ll keep getting better.

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2 thoughts on “Give yourself a break: dementia care takes practice”

  1. Thank you for the great read. My grandma was diagnosed with dementia last year and it has gotten somewhat worse within the past year. It worries me and makes me sad because I do not want her to forget precious memories and me. I did some reading and found this, what do you think about it? I started taking her to an art class once a week for the past 3 weeks. I can’t say it drastically helped her, but my mom says she is happier. That counts for something right?

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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.

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