Caring For a Loved One With Dementia
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia can present special challenges, but you can ensure he stays safe and engaged by taking a few simple steps.
1. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE:
Consistency throughout the day can reduce agitation and promote well-being. Set regular wake, sleep and meal times, and attune them to your loved one’s body clock. If Dad’s not a morning person, let him sleep in a bit.
Schedule tasks that can be physically taxing, like bathing or doctors’ appointments, for times he’s most awake and alert. At the same time, stay flexible enough to pursue spontaneous activities that inspire him.
Incorporate physical activity into each day, preferably at the same time. Whether it’s a few laps around the living room, block or park right after breakfast or later in the day, movement is crucial to physical and emotional health. Encourage your loved one to get up and get moving!
As for spiritual health, set aside time for daily prayer, reflection or periodic visits to a favorite place of worship. If travel’s not possible, reach out to your local faith community to arrange a home visit. If faith has always been important to your loved one, honor and continue this important tradition. It can be uplifting for him, and for you.
2. ENGAGE YOUR LOVED ONE:
Promote independence by allowing your loved one to continue doing as much as possible for himself.
Help the morning routine by providing gentle prompts in the bathroom — set out his toothbrush, washcloths, towels to get the process going. Encourage him to dress independently by laying out clothing in the same place each day, in the order items go on. Offer gentle reminders or assistance if needed.
Follow your loved one’s lead when a topic or activity interests him. Build on those skills he already possesses, and activities he favors, instead of trying to develop or discover new ones.At meal times, ask for help setting the table, pulling out chairs, cleaning up. Involvement helps preserve cognitive and fine-motor function and makes good use of time.
Get more ideas on caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia at the Alzheimer’s Association.