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Informal Carers (including family, friends)

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The objective is to contribute to the management and support of the dementia patient’s daily life.

Learning outcomes

After completing the topic, you will:

  • Manage the relationship with the person living with dementia, developing a relationship of trust and a good relational climate
  • Relate effectively with the patient
  • Promote socialisation and promote autonomy


The decline in attention, memory, perception and verbal expression capacity resulting from dementia can make communication with the patient very difficult.

The family or friend who is the carer will carry out assistance activities related to daily life; they consist of personal hygiene care, tidying up and cleaning the home, possibly cooking, bearing in mind the needs and wishes of the person with dementia.

The problem that most affects family members is the sense of powerlessness in dealing with the situation of a person with dementia. A great deal is required of the family member (or friend): they must quickly learn about this disease, prepare themself for all its phases, for the inevitable changes and discomforts, both psychological and practical. A good organisation, built gradually, with the help and support of the rest of the family, will help to face the difficulties that will arise from time to time.

It is also important for the informal caregiver to reserve part of his time for himself. Taking care of a Dementia patient can be very distressing and the behavioural and psychological symptoms can make assistance extremely demanding. This is called ‘respite care’ and it must not be ignored, the caregiver must ensure they can get this time to themselves, which may come from additional outside help, a day centre, classes or similar.

2.2.1 Understanding the needs of the patient

It is important to give a structure to the daily life of the person with dementia; this will also help the carer. Planning the day in such a way as to give a constant order to the activities of daily life (for example the time of the morning wake-up, meals, walks, rest, bath, etc.). Creating a routine means improving the relationship with space and time, reducing the demand for adaptation to factors of novelty, which is always relative;

Planning and carrying out walks and physical activity in a customary manner, as well as being good for health, creates a sort of routine that controls and prevents disorders such as agitation, hyperactivity, insomnia.

It is essential to formulate messages as clearly as possible, with simple and short sentences, maintaining eye contact with the interlocutor: stimulating memory and orientation is also functional to other needs such as freedom of movement, maintaining and stimulating functions and activities to favor the autonomy of the person in daily activities as much as possible.

2.2.2 Quick wins

There are some relatively easy aspects which could be described as ‘quick wins’ helping both parties, see list below:

  • Try to understand what is best for the person with dementia from the person’s point of view.
  • Protect the person’s self-determination,
  • See the person with dementia as an active partner
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills relating to personal hygiene and movement.
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for the use of appliances and aids in use.
  • Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of work/carer stress;
  • Knowing how to manage psychological stress;
  • How and when to contact the experts.
  • Increased sense of confidence in one’s abilities as an informal caregiver
  • Better ability to understand the behaviour of the person with dementia
  • Greater ability to manage the behavioural and cognitive symptoms of the person with dementia
  • Better quality of one’s life and of the life of the person who is cared for even at home


Key points:

  1. Structure and constancy are important

1. List of references

Further reading

Why Is Routine Important for Dementia Care_ The Importance of Creating a Daily Routine for Dementia Patients, Anne-Marie Botek