Here are some small but practical things that can help elderly patients with Dementia: More than 7 million people aged 65 and over in the US suffer from dementia, and the risk of developing this disease significantly increases with age. While this can be a difficult topic to face, there are many practical steps that family members and caregivers can take to assist elderly loved ones living with dementia.
From ensuring that their environment is comfortable and safe to providing reassurance in times of confusion, small acts can make all the difference for someone facing dementia.
Find some ideas to support a loved one with dementia below:
1. Help Keep Track of Appointments, Events, and To-Dos
Keeping track of appointments, to-dos, and taking medications can be challenging for a person with dementia. Make sure calendars are prominently placed around the house so your loved one can always easily view upcoming events.
Use markers or colorful stickers on days to remind them to complete tasks or show up at appointments. If helpful, write out simple daily tasks that could help keep them organized and provide consistent structure throughout the week.
2. Make Their Home a Safe and Comfortable Place
Dementia can affect safety in multiple ways. This condition might impair judgment, affect the sense of time and place, influence behavior, and inhibit physical ability and mobility. Because of this, following a checklist to make your loved one’s home safer is essential.
3. Some steps you can take include:
- Removing trip hazards such as rugs and furniture
- Check smoke detectors are working.
- Provide proper lighting to help them navigate their home.
- Install bed rails if needed for extra support
- Provide anti-slip mats for showers or bathtubs
- Display emergency numbers
- Install secure locks and have a spare key to their home
- Keep alcohol, medications, and chemicals away
- Lastly, consider investing in a safety device that will notify you in the case of an emergency.
4. Establish and Maintain a Routine
When caring for an elderly parent, establishing and maintaining an environment with structure and routine is one of the most important things you can do. This can provide comfort and familiarity, and allow them to be productive, safe, and independent during the day.
Create daily schedules for meal times, sleep times, and even smaller tasks such as yard work or errands. Make sure to keep the schedule consistent each day.
5. Look at Familiar Photos Together, e.g. from Family Trips
Photos are a great way to stimulate memory and bring comfort to the familiar surroundings of people you know. For example, creating an album of snapshots from family trips can draw out stories or happy memories that elderly people with dementia may be struggling to recollect.
If you don’t have an album or you are looking for a way to bring together all of your favorite photos and memories, creating a photo book with Mixbook can make the process enjoyable and straightforward.
6. Encourage Conversation As Much as Possible
Encouraging two-way conversations can help your loved one keep their mind active and continue expressing their feelings, needs, and wants. However, don’t forget that keeping up a conversation with someone with dementia is different from talking to a healthy individual. That’s why you should remind the person that it is ok if they need help or if they can’t remember something, but you should also help them recollect something with gentle prompts.
7. Plan Activities To Enjoy Together
There are endless activities that you can enjoy with a loved one with dementia to promote their mental and physical well-being and create positive bonds. For example, taking walks in a local park, playing easy board games, tending the garden, singing, writing, and reading are all great ways to keep someone with dementia active and engaged.
You may also make their daily life more exciting by joining them for meals, helping them with daily activities, massaging their hands and feet, and spending time conversing or watching old movies.
8. Take Care of Yourself
While you should focus on your aging parent or loved one, it is important to remember to take care of your own well-being too. Caring for the elderly with dementia can be physically and emotionally draining. Taking breaks, exercising, and surrounding yourself with supportive people are great ways to sustain your energy levels throughout this challenging journey.
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