Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
People with any type of dementia and their caregivers — whether it's vascular dementia or Alzheimer's disease — experience a mixture of emotions, including confusion, frustration, anger, fear, uncertainty, grief and depression.
Caring for someone with dementia
- Seek out support. Many people with dementia and their families benefit from counseling or local support services. Contact your local Alzheimer's Association affiliate to connect with support groups, resources and referrals, home care agencies, residential care facilities, a telephone help line, and educational seminars.
- Give encouragement. Caregivers can help a person cope with vascular dementia by being there to listen, reassuring the person that life can still be enjoyed, providing encouragement, and doing their best to help the person retain dignity and self-respect.
- Provide a calm environment. A calm and predictable environment can help reduce worry and agitation. Establish a daily routine that includes enjoyable activities well within the comfort zone of the person with vascular dementia. New situations, excess noise, large groups of people, being rushed or pressed to remember, or being asked to do complicated tasks can cause anxiety. As a person with dementia becomes upset, the ability to think clearly declines even more.
Caring for the caregiver
Providing care for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding. Feelings of anger and guilt, frustration and discouragement, worry and grief, and social isolation are common. But paying attention to your own needs and well-being is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for the person in your care. If you're a caregiver:
- Learn as much about the disease as you can. Ask your primary care doctor or neurologist about good sources of information. Your local librarian can also help you find good resources.
- Ask questions of doctors, social workers and others involved in the care of your loved one.
- Call on friends and family members for help when you need it.
- Take a break every day.
- Take care of your health by seeing your own doctors on schedule, eating healthy meals and getting exercise.
- Make time for friends, and consider joining a support group.
- Dementia: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dementias/detail_dementia.htm. Accessed March 6, 2011.
- Middleton LE, et al. Promising strategies for prevention of dementia. Archives of Neurology. 2009;66:1210.
- Rockwood K, et al. The inclusion of cognition in vascular risk factor clinical practice guidelines. Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2009;4:425.
- Vascular dementia. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/professionals_and_researchers_13517.asp. Accessed March 4, 2011.
- Mixed dementia. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/professionals_and_researchers_13516.asp. Accessed March 4, 2011.
- Wright CB. Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of vascular dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Feb. 15, 2011.
- Wright CB. Treatment and prevention of vascular dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Feb. 15, 2011.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Carotid ultrasound. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/cu/cu_all.html. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Aricept: Highlights of prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/022568s004,020690s033,021720s006lbl.pdf. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Medications for memory loss. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_standard_prescriptions.asp. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E0F45395-A473-4B26-8F7E-86F4314405CE/0/CaringGuide.pdf. Accessed March 9, 2011.