Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

How to Help Someone with Dementia

Old man making word dementia of wooden cubes on table, brain disease, health
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By Motortion Films/Shutterstock.com

Not sure how to help someone with dementia? In this quick guide, we’re offering our top tips for helping someone suffering from memory loss — from making their home safe to walking together every day.

Stick to a daily routine.

Having a daily routine is a must for keeping people with dementia from becoming confused. Because people with dementia don’t have a great sense of time, you will probably have to keep an eye on the clock and initiate activities — such as taking medication or putting on clothes for dementia patients — when it’s time to get started. If changes need to be made, phase them in over time to avoid upsetting your loved ones.

Safeguard their environment.

Elderly adults are already vulnerable to dangers in the home, and dementia compounds this. Do a safety audit of the home and determine how you will guard against potential dangers. For example, you may need to install grab bars in the bathroom, put in a stair lift and block all open electrical outlets with plastic plugs. These precautions can greatly decrease your loved one’s chances of accidental injury.

Help them maintain independence.

In the early stages of dementia, most elderly people will still be able to do daily activities, possibly with some minimal assistance. Resist the urge to swoop in and take care of everything for them. There will be plenty of need for that later on. Instead, focus on helping them maintain independence as long as it is safe and easy for them to do so. Look for solutions, such as men’s adaptive clothing, that will allow them to continue to bathe, dress and feed themselves.

Health visitor talking to a senior woman during home visit
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By pikselstock/Shutterstock.com

Walk together each day.

Regular exercise can help reduce the restlessness and urge to pace that leads to wandering. Take your loved one for a walk around the neighborhood every day that the weather permits in order to help tire them out. Build this into their daily routine so they come to expect it. If the weather is too bad for walking outdoors, then set up an area inside where they can pace around to maintain the routine.

Involve them in activities.

People with dementia often enjoy participating in family or group activities, even if they do not completely understand what is happening. Encourage them to join in to whatever extent is possible given the progression of their dementia. Keep in mind that they may not be mentally capable of planning or starting an activity on their own, so you will probably need to take initiative to get the ball rolling.

Check Out Our Comfortable Clothes for Dementia Patients

Give them quiet time, too.

That being said, people with dementia also need plenty of quiet time and space to decompress from activities and social time. Too much activity can cause them to become overstimulated, resulting in agitation and possibly even an outburst. If they seem happy to sit quietly and stare off into the distance for a little while, then let them. They probably need to rest and recuperate.

retired couple holding hands and looking at each other at home
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By LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

Limit naps during the day.

Sticking to a schedule is important for people with dementia, and this includes their sleep schedule. Napping during the day can lead to sleep disruptions, upsetting their routine and sometimes even causing them to confuse day and night. Do your best to keep them awake throughout the day and to limit nap time when the sun is out. Try to confine sleeping to nighttime hours only to avoid confusing them further.

Tell them what you are doing.

As the dementia progresses, your loved one will need help with basic activities such as dressing. This can be a bewildering experience for them, one that they might not understand (since they are used to taking care of themselves). Talk them through what you are doing step by step in a gentle, low voice to help reduce their confusion. Even if they don’t completely understand you, your voice will help soothe them and encourage them to stay calm.

Redirect them during outbursts.

Outbursts are a common side effect of late stage dementia. When this happens, stay calm and acknowledge that your loved one is upset. Then, try to redirect their attention to a calming activity that you know they enjoy. You should also take steps to mitigate whatever triggered the outburst — for instance, turning down loud music that caused them to become agitated.

If dressing your loved one with dementia is stressful for both of you, then consider Alzheimer’s clothing from Silverts. We make comfortable, affordable clothing for men and women, whether you need self dressing, assisted dress or anti-strip garments. All U.S. orders over $20 ship free, so start your wardrobe makeover today!

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