What to Expect As Your Loved One Ages

Image of Dr. Macie Smith, as she discusses tips for supporting someone living with dementia

By Dr. Macie Smith

The doctors have confirmed it: your parent or loved one has a progressive type of dementia. Aging expert Dr. Macie Smith explains why taking a collaborative approach is crucial. 

When a parent or loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it’s not just an individual disease–it’s a family condition. The road forward is one you and your loved one will take together. It may be difficult for you not to take charge, but I assure you that walking side by side as care partners will result in far better outcomes for everyone.

So what’s the dynamic at play here? As the adult child of a parent with newly diagnosed dementia, you likely have been working for many years, have a lot of experience and may even be at the top of your career. You may feel the need to lead the charge. You may feel like it’s not only your natural inclination ingrained from your job experience, but your familial duty to take care of a parent or loved one as they took care of you.

Both responses are natural, but unfortunately neither is fully effective because it removes the locus of control from your loved one. In short, by taking an authoritative role, you compromise your loved one’s fiercely guarded independence, which they now know is in jeopardy.

Assuming an authoritative role in the care of your loved one with dementia is threatening. And when people are threatened, they often become resistant and even uncooperative in an effort to retain independence–an unintended consequence of your good intentions to help. 

Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes and I’m sure you can understand and empathize with the flurry of emotions that accompany a diagnosis of dementia: fear, sadness, shame, anger, hopelessness. 

So instead, adopt a collaborative approach. This will improve cooperation and adoption of changes put in place to help your loved one live their best life. And at the end of the day, that is the outcome everyone wants.

Next time, Dr. Macie Smith will discuss advance care planning for your loved one with dementia.

Dr. Macie P. Smith is a licensed gerontology social worker who is focused on helping families support their aging loved ones through long-term care. Specifically, Dr. Smith educates caregivers on how to care for seniors with dementia. She is an advocate for specialized care and assists others in finding a way to provide a better quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Smith has dedicated over 22 years of her life working in gerontology and assisting families in finding personalized solutions for dementia care.


Whether your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia, understanding the disease and identifying the right family caregiver resources and support can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Rest assured, SYNERGY HomeCare is here to help you navigate through uncharted waters and create peace of mind in caring for your loved one experiencing dementia or memory loss. 

Download the FREE SYNERGY HomeCare Memory Care Guide, visit the “Resources” section here.

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