It is officially the new year! A new year brings hope, opportunity for growth and excitement for new possibilities. It provides a chance to learn new things create cherished memories, and to lead a safer, happier life. This chance exists for all of us, including those who are living with a dementia diagnosis. Here are several ways to help make life more enjoyable and to keep persons living with dementia involved in their care this year.
Adjust Daily Tasks. Try to be ahead of the game when anticipating ways to help a relative who is living with dementia. Maximize their independence as much as possible by helping them take precautionary measures around their home, such as adding non-skid mats to showers and tubs. You can also help them remove throw rugs, electrical cords or other fall hazards. While performing daily activities may be challenging for someone living with dementia, you can make modify these tasks so that they are still able to participate. For example, you can help set up alarms on their phone to remind them to take medication. Additionally, you can assist them in scheduling automated bill payments, to minimize feelings of being overwhelmed trying to track payment information each month. If they get discouraged or frustrated when completing meal preparation for the week, help them take advantage of grocery store delivery services, or apps like Instacart which they can use to have ingredients delivered right to their door. There are also several services seniors can use to order fresh or frozen meals over the phone. Being proactive in anticipating your loved one’s needs will go a long way in making their life more enjoyable.
Stay Physically Active. People living with memory loss can often experience frustration, boredom or negativity. Staying physically active can help to lessen these symptoms. This can be anything from a simple daily walk around the block or their favorite store, to dancing or tapping their feet to music they like, to planting flowers, stretching or doing yoga. Helping your loved one keep their body moving can be a great way to help reduce sleep problems, manage feelings of agitation and improve their overall well-being.
Be Patient. Your loved one may start finding it challenging to express themselves or begin telling the same stories over and over. They may also struggle remembering major life events. To help prevent your loved one from feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remain patient and allow the time for them to gather and express their thoughts. Focus on what they are capable of instead of what is difficult during your conversations with them. Be uplifting and encourage independence with the things they have expressed they want to do. While your loved one living with dementia may not be able to have detailed conversations with you anymore, you can still have a meaningful relationship and continue to create memories.
Stimulate the Mind with Engaging Activities. Engage in activities that will help keep your loved one’s mind active. You can do this by assisting them in making cards for other family members or friends, playing board games or card games, reading poems or books together, cooking one of their favorite meals together, painting with watercolors, inviting friends over for snacks, singing their favorite songs or playing with puzzles and dominoes. Keep in mind that you don’t have to finish every activity you start; it’s okay if the person loses interest. Also, make sure that you’re not going too fast for your loved one and adjust the pace, if needed.
It is important to spend time with loved ones who are living with dementia to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. The suggestions above, can help a person living with dementia to cope with changes they are experiencing, as well as support them to continue to lead a full life.