LIVING WITH DEMENTIA
When someone lives with dementia it is very difficult both for themselves and for those who live around them, family and friends or who even care for them on a daily basis.
It is important to remember every person with dementia is different but there are some simple actions that can help to maintain the quality of life they have. Over time dementia may cause a person to lose interest or the abilities they had and therefore activity is a good thing. It is important for them to be stimulated and able to actively take part in things around them.
Here are some useful tips suggested both by the Alzheimer’s Society and MindStart:
Consider the person’s current abilities. This might include:
- 1. High activity level – completing simple tasks with guidance or direction
- 2. Middle activity level – doing tasks one step at a time
- 3. Low activity level – responding to touch, movement, colours and smell
- • Plan ahead – this is about giving the person time and identifying even the most simple of activities to engage and stimulate them. It can something as simple as making a sandwich, setting a table, helping to pack a picnic or put things away in a cupboard.
- • Consider the person’s past interests when choosing activities giving important familiarity. For example reading a book may be too difficult but reading cards, short poems and notes around photographs may help. In the early stages of dementia consider regular physical activity to help maintain stimulation.*
- • Ensure routines are established so there is a structured environment – with help setting table, getting breakfast, eating together and then clearing away
- • Try half-done activities. The carer can start an activity and ask for help to finish it, finishing off a puzzle or setting out a table or taking the simple elements out of baking – setting out the cupcake liners, finish off stirring the batter and maybe even help with basic decorations.
- • Consider the level of stimulation and timing, too many visitors can be confusing (even family members) but maybe a few at a time would enable the person to interact more positively
- • As the day winds down the person may need slower, calmer activities such as soft familiar music or a cup of tea before bed. Try including low-key activities before a person starts to get anxious
MindStart summarize as the 3 R’s:
- 1. Routine > establish a daily routine which helps the person have an idea what to expect next
- 2. Reduce > simplify activities through setting up tasks with less steps, less complexity and less difficult directions
- 3. Reassure > offer the person praise and encouragement throughout
Remember always to seek further advice from your GP. Often an occupational therapist* can help guide you to appropriate activities and how to add simplifications