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Forgetfulness and Confusion

Ottawa Dementia Care

Forgetfulness and Confusion

This is our third blog in a series on behaviours. Forgetfulness and confusion in the later stages of the disease, will present itself as your loved one not being able to remember familiar faces, places, names, or things. In the earlier stages of the disease, it may be mild, and the person may have trouble remembering recent events making decisions or processing what is said by others. They may even call family members by different names and forget all about any relationships they were involved deeply in. They may even forget words for specific items such as a pen or knife, or fork.

Main Cause

The main cause of forgetfulness and confusion is the progressive damage to the brain cells caused by the dementia and though medications cannot reverse the damage, it may help lessen the symptoms for a limited time.

From our previous blogs about behaviours, we will recall that according to the Dementia Society there is a basic three-step approach in understanding and finding solutions to the most common behaviours that is used by professionals all over our country.

  1. Examine the behaviour.
    1. What was the behaviour – was it harmful?
    2. Did something trigger the behaviour?
    3. What happened immediately after the behaviour?
    4. Could something be causing the person pain?
    5. Could this be related to medications or illness? Consult a doctor to be sure.


  1. Explore potential solutions.
    1. Are the persons needs being met?
    2. Can adapting the surrounding comfort the person?
    3. How can you change your reaction or approach?


  1. Try different responses.
    1. Did your new response help?
    2. Do you need to explore other potential solutions? If so, what can you do differently?

Here at MPHC, we always say that instead of trying to bring a person with dementia into our world, we need to live in their world.

Ways to Respond

The best way to respond to forgetfulness and confusion:

  • Stay calm.
  • Respond with a brief explanation – of where you are, who you are, but do not make it too complicated. Keep it simple.
  • Show photos and other reminders – to remind your loved one of important relationships or places – show a photo of a family gathering and point out the face of the person they cannot remember and say something like “is this not Johnny?” or “Johnny sure was a cute kid”.
  • Instead of correcting your loved one, offer suggestions – such as “I thought that was a fork” if they point to a fork and calls it a spoon. Or “I thought that was Johnny”
  • Try not to take it personally.

Remember, it is the disease that your loved one is dealing with, and you are now going on this very difficult journey together. We are here to help you understand how to cope with the ever-changing progress of the disease.

Contact us today for more information about Ottawa dementia care services. Email at: or Call: 613-686-6366