The Positive Aspects of Supporting Someone Living with Dementia

Vicky Pitner   -  

In the United States, there is an estimated 7 million adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, and approximately 75%- 80% of those are living in their home and are being supported by their family. The support the family members provide are crucial in the quality of life and over-all well-being for both the person experiencing memory loss and the family as a whole.

Studies are readily available to identify aspects of the challenges of providing support for a loved one experiencing memory loss, including the behavioral symptoms that may arise due to confusion and anxiety the person feels. These behavioral symptoms are often not present when supporting someone with other chronic illness’s, thus, research does indicate that supporting someone with dementia can be more challenging and have a negative outcome on the family.

But a recent study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that with self-efficacy training, in-depth understanding of the behavioral symptoms of dementia and utilizing effective psychosocial interventions, families can have a more positive experience while supporting the family member at home. Other factors that can determine the positive outcome of support at home is the satisfaction, rewards, and personal growth of the family members.

Factors that can result in either a negative or positive experience of supporting a family member with dementia, is the relationships of the family members prior to the diagnosis, the understanding the family members have about dementia, the willingness to learn positive interactions, resilience of the family, motive of home support and the current circumstances of the family.

Programs that promote the positive aspects of supporting someone with dementia, such as the Memory Cafe at FUMC, that offer dyadic relationship interactions to connect the family member with the person with dementia, and taking a whole-body approach to treatment, can enhance the positive aspects of support.

With positive trainings for family members include learning new communication strategies and observation skills on identify and meeting unmet needs that can cause behavioral symptoms. Staying engaged in social and physical activities, cognitive stimulation, (reading out loud is a great activity), providing opportunities for self-expression, and meeting the spiritual needs of the person living with dementia is a well rounded approach in reaping the benefits of the positive aspects of supporting someone living with dementia.

Learning how to positively support your family member to live with a dementia includes keeping you family and your member with dementia active and engaged in the community. The worse possible scenario is for you and your family member to isolate and be disconnected from friends and neighbors. Social isolation is associated with faster cognitive decline, depression and stress for the entire family. On the other hand, staying active is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and depression.

If you would like more information on our Memory Ministry, Memory Cafe, or support trainings we offer, please contact Vicky Pitner at