Gaining Cooperation from Someone with Dementia

Gaining Cooperation from Someone with Dementia in Louisville

1. Be Willing to Compromise.

If a client won’t shower, will he or she at least agree to a shallow bath or a sponge bath? What about washing the hair? What about simply washing the hands before eating? Sometimes compromise leads directly to a “yes.” Use positive statements to encourage the person, such as “It feels good to be clean”.

2. Offer Rewards for Participation

Dementia can lead to an inability to reason effectively. That’s why reasoning with the person doesn’t work. Instead, offering something positive after cooperation is an effective method.

  • Example:“When we finish with your bath, we can have some ice cream!”

3. Use One of the Principles of the “Best Friends Approach”

that we do things together. Best friends don’t tell each other what to do. They do things together! They say, “How about we do this?” Or, “Let’s do this”, Or, “It’s time to do this.”

4. Try Three Times, Different Ways Each time, to Ask the Person to do Something.

  • Example 1: Let’s have a snackIf the person says no, wait a while and try another tactic.
  • Example 2:It’s time for a snack! Let’s sit down and enjoy it”If the person says no, wait a while and try one more tactic.
  • Example 3:Look at the great snack I fixed! Let’s have a seat and enjoy it.”If the person says no, drop the idea and move on to another activity.

5. Don’t Take the “no” Personally.

Understand that a ‘no’ is not a rejection of you. In people with dementia, ‘no’ may be a symptom of memory loss. Asking someone with dementia to take a shower could make the person with short term memory loss think, “I just took a shower earlier this morning. Why on earth would I want to take one again? No!

6. Make it Easy to Cooperate by Offering Acceptable Choices.

It’s easy to say ‘no’ to a direct request like “Eat your lunch.” It’s easier to say ‘yes’ when you’re given a choice (make sure the choices are things that you want them to choose).


  • Would you like to eat lunch at 11:30 or at noon?”
  • “Would you prefer a tuna sandwich or a salad?”

7. Remember: Don’t let it Become a Power Struggle.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the desire to get cooperation that you lose sight of the overall goal of looking out for the person’s overall physical and emotional well-being. If you expect 100 percent cooperation and compliance from a resistant person, you need to adjust your expectations. By setting reasonable expectations and using positive approaches to get cooperation, you can reduce the stress you feel as a caregiver each time you hear the word ‘no.’

Caring for someone with dementia can be very stressful, and it is important for family caregivers to make time for themselves.

If you need in-home help for your loved one with dementia, contact Robin & Ken Helfers at Always Best Care Senior Services in Louisville, KY.

They are both Certified Senior Advisors® and Certified Dementia Trainers through the Alzheimer’s Associaton.

Their goal is to help the person with dementia through each stage of their journey in the most positive and loving manner.

To accomplish this, they take a team approach, providing ongoing training and helpful tips to both the caregivers they assign to dementia clients, and the clients’ family.

Call 502-272-4400 or send an email to: [email protected] to inquire further!

Posted In: Senior Care