The Challenge of Loving someone with Dementia

Hello Careblazer,

I hope you are doing well.

In case you didn’t know, I do take the time to read all of the FB messages, emails, and YT comments that you leave for me.

I’ve recently been getting comments from Careblazers that are frustrated with my use of the term “loved one” when talking about the person with dementia. The comments typically reflect something about how their “loved one” is no longer kind and that there is not much of a relationship left. They ask me to stop using the term “loved one” and ask me to use a different term. Some people have gotten so upset with my use of the word, they've completely stopped being a part of the Careblazer family.

I wanted to share my reason behind the term of the use loved one.

Caring for a person with dementia is HARD. I don’t have to tell you that. If you are committed to caring for someone with dementia, then you committed to doing one of the hardest things for an unknown period of time. Sometimes it’s a year, sometimes it’s a decade!

I don’t think that anyone can truly provide great care for someone with dementia if they don’t deeply care for that person. Whether you are a family member, friend, neighbor, or paid worker- if you don’t care about the person you are caring for, the care you give will not be that great.

I use the term “loved one” because people who are taking time out of their busy days to watch my videos and read my emails (people like you!) are trying very hard to do their best at caregiving. It tells me that they are searching for support in a difficult situation. It tells me that even when the going gets rough, they are still committed to trying to find a way to care for the shell of a person that they used to know.

So even if the person you are caring for is “mean,” “rude,” and frustrates you on the daily- they are still a loved one.You wouldn't be putting forth your time, energy, and emotions if you didn't care for them on some level. So while you may not love the disease, and you may not love their behavior, and you may not love the words they sometimes say, on some level you are providing care from a place of love.

The people I created Careblazers for are the people who are making the sacrifices, dealing with the difficult situations, looking for support. Those are the people I created this site for.

I named you a Careblazer for a reason. A Careblazer is a dementia care hero. HERO. That’s not easy. That’s tough. There are hundreds of reasons why it would be easier to give up and stop caring, but heroes do what’s difficult. They do what’s best for their loved one with dementia and for themselves. They do the hard thing.

I truly believe that this kind of person must in some way be caring for a loved one, even if the love is harder to find on some days.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this. What do you think about my use of the term “loved one?” Does this bother you? If so, what other word would you use instead?

Wishing you all the best,

Dr. Natali Edmonds


P.S. As many of you know I’m currently deployed to the Middle East with the Army. I apologize in advance if I can’t respond to your email immediately. I’ll do my best to get back to you with time.