Person-Centered Care for People Living with Dementia

Person-Centered Care

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Person-centered care is an approach to providing healthcare that focuses on the individual needs and preferences of people with dementia. It emphasizes respect for autonomy, dignity, independence, choice, and self-determination in all aspects of care. Person-centered care seeks to provide a supportive environment where individuals can live independently while receiving necessary medical attention.

Person-centered care for people with dementia is essential in supporting them to live well. Dementia is a progressive neurological condition that can cause significant impairments in a person’s ability to think, remember, and communicate. Unfortunately, traditional acute and long-term care techniques focus on managing behavior and providing services that are not tailored to the individual’s needs. However, person-centered care puts the individual first, considering their preferences, abilities, values, and beliefs, and creates an environment specifically tailored to meet their needs.

“Person-centered care is the foundation of high-quality care,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is the basis of the Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, which were developed to help define the quality of care in all care settings and across the course of the disease. All sectors of the long-term care sector are embracing these dementia care guidelines. Additionally, they’re the subject of a partnership with the Joint Commission for Memory Care Certification (MCC) as guidelines for improving the quality and security of dementia.

The Principles of Person-Centered Care

The principles that underline person-centered care for people with dementia are:

  1. Know someone who is living with dementia.
  2. Recognize and accept the individual’s actuality
  3. Explore and help support the ongoing opportunities to engage meaningfully
  4. Create and maintain genuine, loving relationships
  5. Maintain and build a positive community for families, individuals, and staff
  6. Review care practices frequently and make the necessary changes

Dementia: More Than a Diagnosis

Underlying person-centered care principles is an acknowledgment of the person experiencing the condition. “People with dementia need to have an identity, and their caregivers must help maintain it.” Caregivers need to understand the resident’s “values, beliefs, interests, abilities, likes, and dislikes—both past and present,” advises the Alzheimer’s Association. “This information should inform every interaction and experience.”

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Dementia Behaviors

“The term person-centered care originates in the work of Carl Rogers, which focused on individual personal experience as the basis and standard for living and therapeutic effect.” In long-term care, caregivers often struggle with the range of behaviors accompanying dementia. Here, it can be helpful to recognize behavior as a form of communication about an individual’s reality. Behaviors can stem from feelings and experiences. Communication and empathy are key to accepting another person’s reality.

Person-centered care aims to create an atmosphere that allows those living with dementia to maintain their sense of identity and purpose despite the cognitive decline. It includes respecting personal values, beliefs, life experiences, and goals; allowing them to make decisions about their own lives; encouraging meaningful activities such as hobbies or volunteer work; promoting social interaction through visits from friends and family members; maintaining physical health through exercise programs tailored specifically for each individual’s abilities; providing emotional support by listening without judgment or criticism; offering spiritual guidance if desired; helping individuals find meaning in everyday tasks like cooking meals or gardening.

Engaging Residents

Dementia care is about more than keeping residents occupied. They need to feel an attachment. “They must be involved in past and current interests and sources of fulfillment and satisfaction.” Engagement can bring comfort, joy, and purpose to the life of a person with dementia, even when the illness is advanced, notes the Alzheimer’s Association. Effective, it should be guided by an individual’s interests and what they like. It provides continuity and preserves a crucial life narrative. “Due to declining cognition, people with dementia need others to ‘hold their story.’

Person-centered care also involves creating a safe environment free from abuse or neglect. Caregivers should be trained to recognize signs of distress so they can intervene quickly. They should also be aware of any changes in behavior which may indicate pain or discomfort due to illness or injury so appropriate action can be taken promptly. Finally, caregivers must ensure that medications are administered correctly according to instructions provided by the doctor overseeing treatment for the patient’s condition(s).

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By taking into account the unique needs and wishes of those living with dementia, person-centered care helps promote quality of life even when it might seem impossible due to the cognitive decline associated with this condition.

Establishing Connections

Nursing home employees must deal with daily “to-do” schedules and routines. The essence of person-centered care is its focus on relationships over tasks. Person-centered care “challenges the conventional healthcare model which tends to be focused on schedules, processes and organizational and staff needs.” If the patient is first, the relationship between the caregiver and the residents creates respect and dignity. Individual preferences are always at the forefront of the relationship. This is crucial in light of the profound influence of emotions on the emotional experiences of nursing home residents. 

Person-centered care starts with the belief that all individuals should be treated with respect and dignity. It implies that care should be tailored to each person’s needs and preferences. It may include bespoke care plans tailored to the individual’s life history and goals, opportunities for choice and control in the care setting, and prioritizing activities that bring joy and a sense of purpose to the individual’s life.

In addition, person-centered care for people with dementia should allow for connection and communication. It includes verbal conversation and activities that stimulate sensory communication in a person’s life. For example, art activities, music, and engaging aromas can help engage people with dementia and create meaningful conversations and experiences. People living with dementia can still experience joy and happiness, and seeing and feeling these positive emotions through activities will help maintain a sense of satisfaction.

A Supportive Dementia Care Community

The feeling of security and potential for success come through the communities themselves, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Social connections, the ability to share stories with other people, and the ability to be yourself are all important to a flourishing dementia-friendly community. Recognizing how each person reveals their unique individuality and identifying their strengths is essential.

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Person-centered care can help to improve the quality of life for people with dementia by providing opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the care environment. It includes encouraging individuals to participate in tasks such as baking, flower arranging, and tasks tailored to their interests. It can empower individuals and give them a sense of purpose and a connection to the community.

Continuous Improvement

Every aspect of care for residents is subject to a cycle of re-assessment and any warranted adjustments. It is also true for individual-centered care. A long-term care facility has to review its procedures regularly and consider improvements to increase the quality of care for residents.

It is particularly important to realize that: “Selfhood is much more than memory, and shouldn’t be thought of solely as cognitive abilities. Being aware of and maintaining selfhood is essential to ensuring that care is person-centered”.


In conclusion, person-centered care for people with dementia is essential to help ensure their comfort and quality of life. Care should be tailored to the individual’s needs, preferences, and abilities, focusing on providing meaningful joy, communication, and opportunities to contribute to their environment. Only by following these principles can person-centered care helps improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

Patient-centered care is the premise of’s mission. is a FREE HIPAA-compliant, patient-centered messaging platform which provides real-time information about the health of patients and attrition risk reports for staff. customers can streamline professional communications using our user-friendly app getting push notifications when colleagues tag them for instant delivery. Users share documents, images, videos, and text which are stored securely in the secure cloud, which reduces the amount of space used by devices. We work together to improve the safety, efficiency, and dignity of every one of your residents each day. How does person-centered care take place in your facility? Our team is here to help you.

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