Here are 20 quick tips for caring for someone with dementia:
Stay organized and keep a routine: Establishing a routine can help provide structure and stability for the person with dementia, as well as make it easier for caregivers to manage their care.
Encourage independence: Allow the person with dementia to do as much for themselves as possible. This can help them feel more in control, maintain their dignity, and retain their skills for longer.
Provide a safe environment: Make sure the person with dementia is safe by removing hazards from the home and using safety devices such as grab bars, a shower chair or tub transfer bench, non-skid mats, and magnetic cabinet locks, when necessary.
Communicate clearly: Use simple language, speak slowly, and give them adequate time to respond. Also, try to make sure the person with dementia has your full attention when you're talking to them.
Use visual cues: If the person with dementia has trouble remembering or following verbal instructions, try using visual cues such as pictures or written notes to help them understand.
Keep their brain active: Engage the person with dementia in activities that stimulate their brain, such as puzzles, games, art projects, or other activities they enjoy.
Maintain social connections: Encourage friends and family members of the person with dementia to stay connected, as social interaction can help reduce feelings of isolation and improve their quality of life. Be advised that friends and family may need additional support for the best ways to communicate with your partner.
Investigate behavior changes: You may notice changes in your partner's behavior such as paranoia, agitation, aggression, and wandering. It's important that you do not accept behavior changes as "just a part of dementia". Behaviors are an important form of communication. Take the time to investigate what could be contributing to or impacting your partner's behavior. If this an area you need additional help in, consider investing in our book With Intent: A Practical Guide to Navigating Behaviors Along the Dementia Care Journey.
Encourage physical activity: Exercise can help improve physical and cognitive function in people with dementia. Not all exercise has to be strenuous — movement is the key. It could be walking, yoga, dancing, helping with chores around the house, tossing a ball or batting a balloon — anything.
Support their rest: Make sure the person with dementia gets enough rest and sleeps well at night, as this can help manage behavioral symptoms and improve their overall well-being. Having a solid routine during the day and at night while limiting daytime napping can help mitigate issues with falling asleep at night. If your partner is having difficulty sleeping be sure to talk to their doctor about your concerns and observations.
Encourage healthy diet: A healthy diet can help improve overall health and well-being, and may also help manage some of the symptoms of dementia. Although there are general recommendations for what constitutes as a health diet such as the Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, or MIND diet, what may be healthy for one person may not be healthy for another. Consider consulting with a dietician or nutritionist, to ensure your partner is eating the proper foods. If you partner has difficulty swallowing, please ask the doctor for a referral to a Speech Language Pathologist who can perform a thorough assessment and evaluation.
Keep them hydrated: Make sure the person with dementia drinks enough fluids to prevent dehydration. There are several ways this can be achieved! Don't forget that many fruits and vegetables serve as a good source of water. When possible, avoid providing alcohol and caffeine as these drinks can be dehydrating.
Avoid overstimulation: Too much stimulation can be overwhelming for someone with dementia, so try to keep the environment as calm and peaceful as possible.
Use familiar objects: Introducing familiar objects into the environment can help the person with dementia feel more at ease and reduce confusion.
Find ways to manage stress: Caregiving for someone with dementia can be incredibly stressful, so it's important to find ways to manage stress and take care of your own well-being. It's very hard to care for others if you are not well cared for yourself.
Seek support: Don't be afraid to seek support from friends, family, fellow caregivers, and even professionals. It's important to have a network of people to help you manage the demands of caregiving. A quick google search of "dementia caregiver support groups" can reveal a number of support group options available to you. Bambu Care even has a free support community called Bambu Care Champions that you are more than welcome to join!
Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about dementia and how to manage it, as this can help you better understand the person with dementia and provide more effective care. An easy way you can do this is by joining us inside the Treehouse, the ultimate dementia care resource library, investing in our book With Intent: A Practical Guide to Navigating Behaviors Along the Dementia Care Journey, or enrolling in the With Intent MasterClass, a self-paced 9-module course created to empower you with the knowledge and resources you need to regain control, find peace of mind, and confidently navigate your dementia care journey.
Be patient: Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging, and it's important to be patient, understanding, and gentle with both yourself and your partner with dementia.
Take breaks: It's important to take breaks and have time for yourself to recharge and prevent burnout — even if it's just 5 minutes.
Seek respite care: Consider using respite care services to give yourself a break from caregiving responsibilities. These services can provide temporary relief and allow you to take some time for yourself. The key to utilizing respite care is to take respite before you feel like you need it.
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