If you are looking after a loved one with dementia, you know that every day can be a challenge. The Department of Geriatric Medicine from Changi General Hospital (CGH), a member of the SingHealth group, shares simple do's and dont's that can help.

How dementia affects the mind

Dementia is an umbrella of diseases that cause degenerative changes to the brain, resulting from loss of memory and the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) such as dressing, grooming, eating, going to the toilet and bathing.

The condition can also affects one's ability to walk safely and independently, leading to frequent falls and injuries. Persons with dementia also experience behavioural changes, such as unwillingness to perform certain activities, like taking a shower.

As dementia progresses, the person's ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) also deteriorates. Apart from forgetting routines, a person with dementia may not understand instructions from the caregiver and will require more assistance. The person may not even remember how to dress or make simple decisions like what to eat and may be overwhelmed by choices or tasks.

During the later stages of dementia, it can lead to incontinence and affect eating patterns.

Read more: Dementia prevention - What to do to lower your risk

Do's and don'ts when caring for a person with dementia

Try observing these simple do's and don'ts


  • Ensure that planned activities are within the person's ability to carry out
  • Break the activity into small parts that are easily achievable
  • At each step, explain what needs to be done in simple language by using easy-to-understand instructions, giving the person enough time to understand and carry out the necessary tasks
  • Use gestures and prompts to orientate them if they seem stuck
  • Keep assisting when needed. Remain calm, pleasant and helpful
  • Thank the person or express appreciation when something is accomplished. Learn to enjoy doing the task, rather than judging the end result

Read more: Tips to understand common dementia behaviors


  • Explain and argue why the activity needs to be done or what will happen if it is not completed
  • Give too many choices or ask confusing or unnecessary questions
  • Rush the patient
  • Point out mistakes or act resentful if the person is slow and clumsy and makes mistakes
  • Do the activity for the person. Instead, do the activity with the person
    Make the person feel frustrated or tired

Read more: Stroke, Parkinson's, dementia and epilepsy - Early signs to look out for

FREE webinar: Want to know more about Dementia Care? Register now for the SingHealth Duke-NUS Memory and Cognitive Disorder Centre (SDDC) Scientific Meeting, happening on 18 September 2020!


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