Fix Uncooperative Dementia Behavior

This video provides information on how to obtain cooperation from someone with dementia.  (time: 3 minutes 10 seconds).


 Did You Know about these free resources available to persons with dementia and their families?
Help Finding Memory Care / Assisted Living
Help Finding In-Home Care
Medicaid Eligible Test (for long term care)


No one likes to deal with uncooperative behavior, but there will be times when you will have to do so. With Alzheimer’s disease, and many other dementias, such as Frontotemporal dementia and Vascular dementia, there will, at times, be problematic behavior that will need to be addressed. Fortunately, there are several techniques that can be used in order to encourage cooperative behavior in individuals suffering from dementia.

First off, before using any of the following techniques, remember to always greet an Alzheimer’s patient with a positive physical approach. To do so, slowly approach the individual from the front, and then upon reaching him or her, stand to the side, rather than directly in front of the individual.

The first technique to gain cooperation is to offer information that is short and specific. For instance, if you are taking the dementia patient to the doctor, simply say, “It’s time to go see the doctor”. There’s no need to elaborate and offer more information than is necessary.

Giving simple choices is another effective method that can be used to encourage cooperation in individuals with dementia. As an example, you might ask an Alzheimer’s patient, “Would you rather watch television or have me read to you,” which gives the individual two options from which to choose. You’ll want to avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions, as well as big questions, such as, “How would you like to spend this coming weekend”. Dementia patients suffer from language loss, so it can be difficult for them to formulate an answer.

It’s human nature to want to be helpful, so another useful technique is to ask the dementia patient for assistance. So, rather than tell the individual he or she has to do something, ask him or her to assist you in the task.

Yet another technique to gain cooperation is to ask the individual to try something, rather than tell him or her to do something. Telling a dementia patient what to do can create resistance. So, simply ask, “Will you try”.

A final method that is useful is to simplify the task and break it down into steps. This technique is particularly helpful if you’ve asked a dementia patient to do something, but they aren’t responding. For instance, if you’ve told the individual that it’s time to go to the doctor, but there’s no response, take it one step at a time. You might start with telling him or her to place both feet on the ground, and then to scoot forward in the chair, and so forth.

If the technique you are trying doesn’t seem to be working, take a step back, consider what you can do differently, and then try again. For instance, use a different tone of voice, try a different technique, or change the object you are holding when you ask the individual to do something.

This video provides information on how to obtain cooperation using some tips such as using short, simple, concrete information, offering simple choices, asking them for help, breaking the task into simple steps and others.

Learn how to obtain cooperation from someone with dementia by using simple, concrete information, offering basic choices, asking them for help, and breaking tasks into simple steps.