Being diagnosed with dementia is life altering, not only for the one who has the disease, but also their friends and family. Most people are overwhelmed with all the new precautions and information they are given at diagnosis. We’ve done the research for you to help make this difficult time just a bit easier. Here are some tips for caring for loved ones with dementia and memory care activities for seniors.
Try to Ease Frustrations
One of the side effects that is common with dementia is increased agitation and frustration. Mayo Clinic gives essential tips on how to help alleviate these side effects.
Make a daily routine- By maintaining a daily routine such as waking up and going to bed around the same time, this can help limit confusion among your loved one. Also, notice when your loved one is most alert and try to schedule doctors appointments or bathing during those times.
Be patient- Simple tasks may become longer than they used so make extra time when scheduling out your loved one’s day. And always try to be patient, you have to remember this is a difficult time for your loved one as well.
Give independence- Try to allow your loved one to do daily activities or tasks by themselves, or with little assistance, if they are able to. This can be done simply by laying out their clothes and having them dress themselves. This will help bring some normalcy to a difficult time.
Avoid napping- Your loved one may often be exhausted and want to lay down for a midday nap. Do not let them do this. This will disrupt their sleep cycle and leave them feeling restless at night. Perhaps try to recommend doing activities, such as going for a walk instead of taking a nap.
Give choices- Allow your loved one to make some of their own choices, however, be supervised by you. For example, give them two choices of outfits and they can choose one they want to wear. Or you can have them choose between going for a walk or playing a board game.
Seniors with dementia may often forget about activities they once used to love. As a caregiver, try your best to incorporate those activities back into their everyday life, as they can help stimulate their memory and emotional connections. Here are some activities your loved one can do:
- Read Books, Newspapers, Magazines
- Arts and Crafts
- Take long walks
- Sing and Dance
Make their environment as safe as possible
Dementia also affects one’s ability to make judgements and their problem solving skills. These losses can often lead to an increased chance in one being harmed if precautions aren’t taken. Mayo Clinic provides some guidelines to help ensure your loved one is protected while at home.
Try to prevent falls- Loss of stability can be common in dementia, therefore making extra precautions to avoid falls is highly recommended. Put handrails and grab bars in areas where your loved one may be prone to fall i.e. the bathroom, shower. Check out these home safety tips for seniors for seniors from Age Safe® Canada.
Install locks- Place locks on doors leading outside. This will help prevent your loved one from wandering off when you are not home or when you are in a different room. It is also important to place locks onto cabinets that contain items such as sharp utensils, alcohol, or medicine, that can cause harm to your loved one.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
It is very important to not neglect yourself while caring for a loved one with dementia. HelpGuide notes to create a personal support plan so you don’t neglect your own health while caring for someone with dementia.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help- Reach out to family and friends if you are needing some help or simply just need a break. Try to schedule breaks throughout the day for time for yourself. Incorporate hobbies and activities that you enjoy into your daily routine to help boost your mood and health. It is also important to remember that you are not neglecting your loved one by taking care of yourself. You need to take care of yourself to better take care of your loved one.
Join a support group- It is integral to remember that you are not alone during this time. There are other caregivers out there who are willing to help and give tips and advice on caring for a loved one with dementia.
Plan your life outside of caregiving- Schedule time for your family. It can be easy to forget to spend time with family and friends while you are caring for a loved one with dementia. Make time and plan activities with your friends and family outside of caregiving to maintain your health.
Exercise- Try to exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Exercising can help increase endorphins, thus boost your mood throughout the day.
Relieve stress- Don’t bottle up all your stress. Talk to someone about what you are going through. This could be a friend, family member or a therapist.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be scary and uncertain. But there are tips out there to help you alleviate some of the stress that comes along with being a caregiver, as well as help your loved one with their cognitive skills. Make sure to take extra precautions and to always make some time for yourself.
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.