How Caregivers Can Help with Dementia
Caregivers of individuals who have dementia face many challenges, but there are some simple yet effective tools they can use to make their task easier and the lives of their loved ones more enjoyable. By using these methods, caregivers will likely find that they can significantly reduce any stress and anxiety they experience while also enhancing the quality of life of the person with dementia.
• Be flexible. Conversing with people who have dementia can be a roller coaster ride, so be flexible. If the person believes you are someone else or insists on seeing someone who is no longer alive, for example, say you will find that person for them and then gently divert their attention to another topic.
• Be creative. Many people with dementia find comfort in creative activities, such as painting, drawing, molding clay, making jewelry, or doing collages. Choose crafts that match their interest and abilities and that do not involve tools that may be dangerous.
• Save memories. Since people with dementia usually remember events and people from their past, work together on assembling a scrapbook or similar project of their memories. This activity may include pictures, mementos, written stories, videos, and music.
• Know the person’s limitations. Select activities that take into consideration people’s physical challenges (e.g., poor eyesight or hearing, mobility), energy level, and their response to time of day (i.e., sundowner’s syndrome).
• Ask for help. People like to feel they are needed, so try to include them in activities by asking for their assistance. For example, if you are making a cake, ask them to stir the batter.
• Play in the dirt. Planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, and caring for plants can be very soothing and therapeutic. Consider planting a small flower bed or garden if it is feasible.
• Enjoy nature. Take walks outdoors or sit outside and talk about your surroundings. Research shows that getting back to nature is an important therapeutic tool for people who are suffering with dementia.
• Stay positive. Although it may be difficult at times to maintain a positive attitude, doing so can help people with dementia remain calm. Do take care of yourself, however, by seeking respite and maintaining a support system.
The ultimate goal when choosing activities for people with dementia is to keep them enjoyable, stress-free (for both them and you) and simple. If you keep this in mind, everyone involved can have a pleasant experience. Advancare will be able to provide with a trained staff that will be ready to attend to your senior care services.