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Redirection for Persons with Dementia

Posted by Karen Thompson on

As many care partners know, your loved one with dementia might become frustrated, confused, and stubborn from time to time as a result of their dementia. Today, we share tips on how to redirect persons living with dementia to better support them and maintain a calm atmosphere. We understand that this might sound much easier than it is, but through practicing redirection skills, you will find what works best for you and your loved one. 

Frustration and Confusion

If you notice your loved one with dementia is frustrated or confused, it is important to recognize this and help to redirect them back to a calmer, safer place. Encourage them (and yourself) to take a few deep breaths. Have them look in your eyes and help to reassure them and make them feel safe again. Tell them where you are, who you are, and provide them with time and space to understand these things. Reflect on an enjoyable, relaxing time you had with them. Perhaps have them sit down, take a few deep breaths and let them know you are there for them. Ask them what caused this frustration and confusion and help come up with a solution or introduce a new task that is calming for them. 

Redirect to Other Activities

If you begin to notice your loved one is frustrated and confused, ask them if they would like to engage in a different activity. If you used to love drinking tea with them, offer them a tea, redirect their negative emotions, and start a new conversation. For example, if they become frustrated in a certain situation, take them out of that situation and put them in a new, more comfortable one. Perhaps they have become frustrated as a result of overstimulation. Take this time to engage in a more relaxed, calm activity, such as reading, talking, or going on a walk. This will help them to de-stress and feel comfortable. Maybe they need time to rest and relax, not everybody has a good day every day, and this is no different for persons living with dementia. It is important to always ask your loved one about what they would like to do and encourage them to express their preferences. Keeping them at the forefront of their care will help to keep a positive atmosphere.

It's important to remember activities they enjoyed doing, as many persons living with dementia maintain their leisure preferences regardless of their dementia diagnosis. If they always enjoyed puzzles, chances are they still do. Find ways to make these adored activities accessible to them and modify when necessary. 

Redirect them Back to the Task if it Must Be Done

If your loved one with dementia is impatient, stubborn, or wanting to move on to something else but is in the middle of a task, help to redirect them back to the task, if it must be done. For example, if they must finish getting dressed, redirect them to a small step of that activity and reassure them that they are doing a good job. Perhaps encourage them to finish before having to move onto something else. Take a break, talk about a part of the task and then come back to it and focus on that. This makes large tasks much more manageable. 

Lighten the Mood

If you notice that the mood has become much more negative and filled with frustrations, help to lighten the mood. Make a joke, laugh about a memory or story, or just laugh. Laughter will help to lighten the mood and create a happier atmosphere. 

Practice Patience

Being a care partner takes patience. It is important to practice patience and know yourself. If you find yourself becoming frustrated or annoyed, practice calming exercises that you know will help to relax you. Perhaps taking deep breaths, leaving the room for a few minutes, laughing, or crying. Do what you must do to take care of yourself, then once you have regained your composure, reintroduce yourself to the situation. This will help to avoid any negative emotions toward one another and help with your own self-care.


If you begin to notice your loved one with dementia is no longer comfortable or their behaviour is beginning to shift, bring in things that are familiar to them. Could you tell them a familiar story? Could you offer them a familiar item? Could you remind them of something in the space that you have in your own house or something they have seen before? Think of things that are familiar to them and bring them in, point them out, and be there for them. 

What ways do you help to redirect your loved one with dementia? Share with us in the comments below.  

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