If you're living with or caring for someone with dementia, it can be a difficult and upsetting time. Often the sudden lack of independence of your relative or friend can be both frustrating and life-changing for you and your loved one.
But www.myageingparent.com have come up with some expert advice to help families make life a little bit easier, safer and less stressful all round.
- Understand what sort of dementia your loved one has.
Whilst Alzheimer’s is the most common type (around 62% of people with dementia have this), it is not the only form.
Vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Frontotemporal Dementia all have different symptoms and are also treated differently so knowing which one your relative has will help you understand how they see the world and how you can best help them.
- Try to help them lead a healthy lifestyle
It's really important to try and encourage your loved one to exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet as keeping the blood flow going in the vessels that lead to the brain will help slow down the onset of dementia.
Try to ask them to stop smoking and cut down on drinking alcohol too as these can have the reverse effect.
- Ensure that any medications prescribed are taken on time
A real danger for those living with dementia is that they forget to take their tablets when they should. Pill boxes with timers are incredibly helpful as reminders.
- Try brain challenges
Memory cafés are a great initiative where people with dementia can have a great time and socialise with others. Here you can create your own activities to help a loved one reminisce, solve problems, and help improve their memory and keep up their language skills. You can find your nearest memory café here.
- Ensure that keep a healthy weight
It's not uncommon for people with dementia to lose a significant amount of weight. This can make it more difficult for your loved one to make decisions and follow instructions, including putting together a meal.
It's a good idea to come up with a simple list of tried and trusted meal and snack ideas for them, ideally shown by photographs rather than just words as this can help them decide what they would like to eat.
- Spot any swallowing problems
If dementia is affecting their speech and ability to swallow, it's important to seek medical advice. If it's not seen to, this can cause food particles to go into the airways and cause a chest infection so it's best to try and nip the problem in the bud straight away.
- Help them stay safe at home.
It can be very confusing and upsetting to make lots of changes to the house at once but you may need to make a few important tweaks to help the person live independently at home for as long as possible.
Use bright, contrasting colours to make the important features of a room easier to see, such as a toilet seat, armchair, or bed linen.
- Try to make the house easy to navigate
Use written labels or photographs posted on doors and cupboards and make sure that all the rooms are well lit. Keep clutter to a minumum and reduce the amount of furniture to reduce the risk of trips and falls.
- Help them keep in touch
It's important your relative or friend still feels connected and supported so keep important telephone numbers on display next to the telephone, or provide a simple to use telephone which has all the key numbers clearly identified, or keyed in on speed dial.
- Keep them in touch with the outside world.
A daily newspaper delivery can help a person keep track of the day and date. Combine this with a calendar listing all appointments and events coming up too to help them stay organised.