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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

Seasoned family caregivers share insights on looking after someone with dementia


May 14, 2018, by Paul Cavanagh,

Looking after a family member with dementia is something none of us is truly prepared for. Even the most resourceful of family caregivers may end up hitting an emotional wall. Invariably, people must learn as they go. 
So, where to turn for advice?
Often, the most helpful resource is a seasoned family caregiver, someone who knows first-hand the challenges of living with someone with dementia. The specifics of the caregiver’s situation may be different from your own – how the dementia affects their relative, their relationship with their relative – but there’s usually something to be learned from their experience. It might be a slightly different way of looking at things. Or it might be some practical piece of advice.
Some experienced family caregivers are interested in passing on their hard-won wisdom in order to give meaning to the heartache they went through. Others simply want to pay it forward after receiving similar support themselves. 
But if you don’t currently belong to a caregiver support group, how can you tap into this source of knowledge?
At, we’ve posted short video segments from conversations we had with three individuals who are currently looking after someone with dementia or have in the past. In the matter of just a few minutes, you can hear about their different experiences.
Here are some highlights of what they had to say:
  • "I think in his own mind he knew something was badly wrong." - Madeleine Roske, caregiver
  • "Part of the challenge… is that dementia manifests itself so very differently in everybody." - Louise Milligan, caregiver
  • "When you’re living with someone with dementia, and over the months and years you see changes, you wonder at what point will I not be able to continue doing this. " - Madeleine Roske, caregiver
  • "There’s mainly two words that I keep in mind: patience and tone of voice. Well, that’s more than two words, but patience and tone of voice." - Jim, caregiver
You can also find similar interview segments for the following caregiving challenges that are not specific to dementia:
If you’d like to find out about dementia-related caregiver support groups in your part of Ontario, use our Find Services feature. Look for programs listed under Support for Caregivers.

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For lovely quiet interludes it is possible to distract the dementia patient with music appropriate to their times. The results are a wonderful opening of the eyes and a light of recollection that is very pleasant for both caregiver and parent.