Main content

    Dementia Symptoms & Caregiver Strategies: Caregiving and Lack of Privacy

    Everyone in a caregiving family needs privacy -- the freedom to exist in their own space. Having privacy means having boundaries that let everyone in the house get away from 24/7 interactions. It's especially challenging when the person being cared for has cognitive impairment. The loss of social appropriateness that can sometimes be part of cognitive impairment can lead a loved one to barge into bedrooms and bathrooms, for example.

    Having mental privacy means being able to continue some version of long-established family time and traditions. While it's important to weave a live-in guest into family life, this needs to be balanced against the risk of alienating children and spouses who may miss old routines or come to feel ignored.

    Lack of privacy: Solutions

    • Make necessary home improvements to allow the person you’re caring for to have his or her own space, not just for sleeping but also for living: a TV set and comfortable chair, a desk, opportunities to get out of the house. Avoid making a child share a room with the person if you can. Explore whether the individual being cared for’s assets can be used to fund a modest addition to a caregiving spouse or adult child's home, rationalized as a cheaper alternative than out-of-home care.
    • Establish household rules everyone agrees on for the use of the TV, the kitchen, and other possible points of conflict. Keep in mind, though, that in the case of dementia, rules become less realistic as the disease progresses.
    • Remain conscious of maintaining one-on-one time with other family members. The person that you are caring for doesn't always have to come first with you; use respite care or other relatives to supplement care.
    • Don't put vacations, school or sports events, or other previous family activities on indefinite hold.
    • Use locks and a low-key response to help manage disinhibition (lack of self-control or filter); explain it to children so they're not frightened.
    • If boundary-intruding becomes overwhelming, talk to the doctor about making sure medications (like anti-anxiety drugs) or alcohol use aren't contributing to the problem.

    Cognitive Impairment can have many causes. The patient’s doctor should be consulted to determine a specific diagnosis and treatment options. But whatever the cause, the symptoms are often alike, and the Caregiver Strategies are often similar.

    The information in the resources listed above was compiled by the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center through clinical experience and commonly available published materials. For information on additional Caregiver Strategies, go to: