How to Care for Someone with Dementia
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Having dementia adds an extra layer of complexity to caring for a loved one. They may not remember where they are, how to complete basic tasks and even who you are. Here are nine tips to help you care for someone with dementia, and don’t forget to shop the Silverts online store to see our Alzheimer’s clothing options!
Keep a daily routine.
Following a daily routine is very important for helping people with dementia to stay grounded and giving them a sense of time passing. Try to do the same activities at the same time every day (both weekday and weekends) to create this sense of routine. Be prepared that your loved one may be confused or agitated when you must upset the routine.
Try to limit naps.
Speaking of maintaining a daily routine, try not to let your loved ones with dementia nap during the day, especially for long periods of time. Extensive naps can cause their sleep schedule to become upset, altering their circadian rhythm and causing them to confuse day and night. Instead, keep them awake during the day and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Give yourselves extra time.
Even the most simple of daily activities takes more time for people with dementia, especially as their symptoms progress. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get ready and pad your schedule with more wiggle room than you think you’ll need. Try to avoid getting frustrated at them, which can make them agitated and trigger an outburst.
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Get them involved.
To help maintain their sense of independence, you should let your loved one participate in tasks to whatever extent is possible. You should also include them in family activities and gatherings, even if they are no longer able to engage in much conversation. Just being around other people will make them feel loved and included.
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Give them clear instructions.
Your loved one might need prompting in order to complete certain tasks, even simple ones that seem obvious to you. Use clear, simple language, and only tell them one step at a time (i.e., say “put your arm through the hole” instead of “put your arm through the hole and then button the shirt”). Be patient with them, and be prepared to gently repeat the instruction if they don’t get it the first time.
Provide simple choices.
Giving your loved one simple choices will also help them feel involved in day-to-day life. For instance, they might not be able to put together an entire outfit of Alzheimer’s clothing or cook a whole meal, but giving them the option of wearing a one piece anti-strip jumpsuit or decide between a meal of easy ingredients like chicken or beef. Giving them simple choices will exercise their brain and help them stay engaged.
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Write down reminders.
If your loved one is still in the early stages of dementia, they might be able to live somewhat independently with reminders for key tasks. Write down reminders in a visible place, such as a whiteboard on the kitchen fridge (this makes a great gift for dementia patients if they don’t already own one!). If they are tech savvy and check their phone often, they might also benefit from getting reminders on their device instead.
Things that you don’t even notice, such as TV or music in the background, can distract and even distress dementia patients. Try to remove these distractions as much as possible to help them concentrate. Also try to only have one conversation going on at a time; crosstalk is difficult and often impossible for people with dementia to follow.
Look for patterns of behavior.
Dementia symptoms progress over time, and things that your loved ones can do safely today may become impossible later down the line. Look out for changes in patterns of behavior, and don’t be too quick to dismiss incidences as one-off mistakes. It’s better to be more cautious than to give your loved one too much freedom, only to find they have wandered off in the middle of the night.
Ready to get some Alzheimer’s clothing for your loved one with dementia? Shop the Silverts online store to find adaptive clothing for both men and women with dementia, including self-dressing solutions and anti-strip jumpsuits.