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When caring for relatives with dementia, develop a good relationship: U of T expert

Dr. Michael Gordon talks about caring for loved ones who develop dementia (photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

With more Canadian families becoming caregivers for people living with dementia, it's important to establish positive relationships with loved ones who will be receiving the care, says Dr. Michael Gordon, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and a geriatric specialist at Baycrest Health Sciences.

Over the next 15 years the number of Canadians living with dementia will almost double, Gordon writes in this week's edition of Doctors' Notes, the Toronto Star's weekly column created by U of T Medical experts. He writes that having the perfect relationship should not be a prerequisite for being a caregiver, but he found with his late parents, his positive relationship with them, as well as his sister’s, helped them navigate difficult next steps.

Read previous Doctors' Notes columns from U of T medical experts

As people with dementia experience a progressive decline in their ability to remember, understand, communicate and complete day-to-day tasks, being overprotective can be a common source of conflict, he writes.

“Though dementia hampers a person’s capacities, their independence still matters a great deal," Gordon writes. “Caregivers can overstep boundaries when they take over ordering at a restaurant, criticize clothing choices and arrange activities the person being cared for doesn’t enjoy.”

Read the full Doctors' Notes column in the Toronto Star