How Task Breakdown Can Make it Easier for You to Care for Someone with Dementia

Old man laughing with another man while outside.

Having dementia can make everyday tasks seem more challenging and frustrating to complete. However, as a caregiver, you can help break down daily functions into individual steps to make a task (like getting dressed or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) easier to understand and complete. Task breakdown can also help anyone living with dementia maintain a sense of independence and dignity by actively participating in the activity at hand.

To explore ways to make tasks easier for someone living with dementia and their caregivers, we spoke with Char Johnson. In addition to being the Coordinator of Dementia Friendly Duluth and Victory Chorus, Char is also the owner of Through Their Eyes Dementia Education and a certified trainer of TEEPA Snow’s Positive Approach to Care. To view the entire conversation, check out the YouTube video or read more below.

3 Easy Ways to Help Breakdown Everyday Tasks 

  1. Break down the task into simple 1 or 2 step directions.
  2. Set up the environment for the task at hand.
    1. For example, if you would like the person you’re helping to get dressed in the morning, set the clothes out in order from left to right.

3. Model the task behavior for them and then ask for help with that   behavior.

     a. For example, if you would like the person you’re helping to fold towels, start folding the first towel and then ask their help to fold the remaining towels. 

While task breakdown can be a handy tool to have in your back pocket as a caregiver, it’s also important to note that not all tasks will always get translated accordingly. And when that happens, it’s helpful to remember to take a step back and assess the situation before getting frustrated. It’s also important to remember to take care of yourself, so you don’t get burned out from the stress that can come with caring for someone. For more caregiver resources, check out the Caregiver Support section on the Resource Directory page.