Brickmont Assisted Living Blog

What Do You Do When a Dementia Patient Refuses Care?

Posted by The Brickmont Assisted Living Team on Dec 15, 2023 10:54:02 AM | 3 minute read

If you’re serving as the primary caregiver for a loved one living with dementia, it can be challenging to know what to do if they refuse to accept your care and support. For example, maybe they’re unwilling to do something you ask them to do, whether it’s taking medication or getting in the car to go to a doctor’s appointment. 

However, it can also look a bit more complicated, especially if your loved one has started refusing food, bathing, and other forms of assistance you’re trying to provide.

At Brickmont Assisted Living, our dementia care communities throughout Atlanta understand the nuances of caring for those living with memory-related conditions. So, if you’re wondering what to do when a dementia patient refuses care, we’re sharing some helpful tips. 

Find the Cause

When a person living with dementia verbally or nonverbally shows they do not want to do something or they do not want assistance with something, you should try to find the cause of these feelings. In many cases, there’s a reason for this behavior, but your loved one might be unable to communicate the root of the problem they’re experiencing. 

For example, your loved one might not understand what you’re trying to do; if you’re attempting to help them bathe or get dressed, they might be confused and unsure of what’s happening. They might also feel they’re being talked down to and are refusing your care or assistance in order to gain a sense of control and autonomy. 

Each person lives their life according to a set of personal routines and preferences, and a person living with dementia might refuse to fit in with any routine that doesn’t match their own.

When assisting a person living with dementia, it is important to do tasks with them, not for them. While maintaining safety is the priority, offer options, inclusion, and opportunities for them to take the lead on activities. 

Coping with Care Refusal

Many times, a person with dementia’s refusal to accept support and care can be solved by finding ways to engage your loved one and provide a sense of comfort, companionship, and empathy. Remember that your loved one still has the right to live by their own routines and preferences, regardless of their condition. 

Maintain Routines

Building a routine is essential for your loved one, especially as dementia progresses. Routines provide a sense of familiarity and comfort as symptoms begin to worsen over time. Maintaining routines takes lots of patience, but it’s a necessary process to help them continue living safely and comfortably. 


Once you understand your loved one’s preferences, it’s essential to adapt to any changes that might occur as time passes. For example, if your loved one prefers to shower rather than take a bath, adapting to that preference can allow you to implement a hygiene routine that works for both of you. 


Encouragement is crucial when it comes to ensuring you’re able to provide your loved one with assistance and support, even when they begin to refuse your care. By implementing actions of encouragement, your loved one will feel as though their voice is being heard and will also feel they have the support they deserve in their daily life. 


When your loved one appears agitated and continuously refuses your help or assistance, put yourself in their shoes. Think about the confusion they might be experiencing or the frustration they’re feeling if they’re unable to carry out a basic task they were able to do independently in the past. 

Ask them open-ended questions that allow them to express their feelings as best as possible, and reassure them that you understand how they feel in the moment and are there to help them.

At Brickmont Assisted Living, our dementia care services provide exceptional care in Atlanta and its surrounding areas. Our expert team is dedicated to providing comfort and security in a warm, inviting environment. 


Our mission is to provide residents with meaning and purpose in each new day and ensure they can reach their full potential. We invite you to visit our website to learn more about our memory care services.


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