Community Blog

How Do I Cope With My Sibling Being Diagnosed With Dementia?

By Patti Soisson

Finding out that your sibling, whom you love dearly and grew up with, has dementia can be heart-wrenching. As this condition is marked by a progressive brain disorder, it can become increasingly difficult for both the patient and caregiver to cope with.

Patients may find it hard to think clearly, remember things and communicate properly. Additionally, they may experience mood swings and anxiety which is mostly depicted in their behavior. And all this is also difficult for the in-home care provider to watch and handle especially if the patient is your sibling and you are the caregiver.

To make life easier and things manageable for you, here are some strategies and tips for you to cope with your sibling’s troubling behavior and communication problems due to dementia:

Be Understanding, Flexible and Accommodating

As dementia is a brain disorder, patients are likely to do things that they normally wouldn’t. This can be annoying but remember you need to be understanding and flexible, because you’re sibling is not doing it deliberately.

Try to accommodate them and empathize with them, and understand the underlying cause of their aggressive or problematic behavior. For example, if your sibling wants to sleep on the floor, then instead of forcing them to sleep on the bed or saying no, accommodate them by placing a mattress on the floor.

Focus on Why Your Loved One is Behaving a Certain Way

By focusing on the ‘Why’, you can easily get to the bottom of the problem and identify exactly why your loved one is behaving in a certain way. This is because behaviors are often a reaction to something. For example, angry outbursts in the form of aggressive statements like ‘I want to go back home’ or ‘I don’t want to take a bath’ or ‘I want to be alone” can all be triggered behaviors due to stress, anxiety, physical discomfort or environmental factors.

So, as a caregiver, and most importantly, as family, you need to be supportive by validating their feelings and letting them know that you understand them and are here to help them. Senior care is a delicate matter and you must ensure that you handle it delicately.

Show Compassion Through Body Language

The best way to show you care is through compassion; and the best way to display compassion is through body language. Therefore, show that you care through your facial expressions and tone of voice. Try to smile more often, and hold hands to reassure them that you’re standing by their side. All this helps them keep calm and feel loved. And that’s exactly what they need in this condition, and what you must do as a sibling!