7 million seniors in America live with dementia. Dementia is a chronic cognitive disorder characterized by memory problems, affecting both short-term memory and long-term memory. Dementia symptoms appear slowly and then worsen over time to the point of the patient losing their independence. Immediate action can slow the process down. Try these 5 tips on how to help a loved one with dementia.
1. Stimulate the Mind
The brain loses connections when it becomes stagnant. Promote mental stimulation with puzzles, word games, creative activities, cooking, educational programming, and social interactions. Provide numerous options that accommodate solo play and multiple participants.
2. Surround Them With Memories
Place pictures, family heirlooms, and inside jokes throughout your loved one's home to remind them of people and experiences they enjoyed. Pick happy and funny memories, such as food recipes and pictures of family vacations. Talk about the items from the past to boost their memory. Be patient when they forget certain things.
3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Many people with dementia report feelings of depression or anxiety. Dementia patients often know they are losing their memory. It can get extremely scary at times. It can also create embarrassment, leading to anger or sadness. When you maintain a positive disposition, it can impact your loved one's mood. Stay positive, even during moments of forgetfulness. Act as a source of comfort during those moments.
4. Stick to a Routine
Promote optimal brain function by keeping the brain on a regular schedule. Perform the same tasks at the same time every day. For example, wake up and have breakfast at the same time every day and eat dinner at the same time every day. A dementia patient may struggle to remember their routine. To help them, write the routine clearly on a whiteboard or calendar. It's also helpful to write all appointments, birthdays, and holidays on a large fridge calendar.
5. Move to a Memory Care Unit in an Assisted Living Community
At a certain point, dementia patients need constant supervision. Dementia patients may get lost and forget where they live. The patient may also forget important medication when they get lost. Lost dementia patients face additional risks when they venture out into extreme cold or hot temperatures. Seniors are more sensitive to heat stroke and hypothermia and should not wander in the elements for too long.
A memory care unit at an assisted living facility will monitor your loved one to keep them safe. They can also assist with everyday tasks, such as cleaning and cooking. Give your loved one a say in the move to help them maintain their independence throughout this transition.
For more info about assisted living, contact a local company.