Living at Home with Dementia – The Essential Tips
Dementia is a condition like no other. A great deal of fear and concern often swirls around the initial diagnosis, leaving the patient and their family utterly overwhelmed. And while almost all of us know someone affected by the condition, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely.
That’s why Dementia Action Week 2019 is so crucial. It’s a UK-wide event that brings individuals, workplaces and the wider community together, all in the hope of improving the life and well-being of those living with dementia. Something as simple as a brisk walk or a singing group can dramatically improve a person’s physical and mental health, especially when they are feeling the stress and isolation that dementia entails.
We at Bryson Care One2One have seen first-hand the ways in which dementia can affect families across Northern Ireland, so in honour of Dementia Action Week 2019, we’ve compiled a number of practical tips on living with the condition.
Sadly there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ guide to coping with dementia, but with a can-do attitude and the right information, you can still live independently in the comfort of your own home.
A Fixed Routine
Familiarity is our greatest weapon in the fight against dementia. A fixed routine ensures people feel confident and assured, even when feelings of confusion begin to creep into the mind. A quick and easy solution is ensuring the household clock clearly displays the date and time.
Time is an anchor. It grounds us. It keeps us on the straight and narrow. So too does a colour-coded timetable – particularly when it’s stuck to the fridge door. Doing household tasks (i.e. locking the doors) at set times can stimulate your memory, too, so establishing some sort of reliable routine is critical.
A Safe, Dementia-Friendly Home
Muted colours, family photos, and cupboards and drawers that are labelled clearly and effectively – small measures that can go a long way in creating a dementia-friendly home. Even a memory box can promote calm and well-being, while listening to music/radio can kindle a sense of familiarity and comfort.
All of these measures should involve the person living with dementia as much as possible, so they may feel happy and content within their own four walls. A more in-depth guide to creating a dementia-friendly home can be found on Age UK's website.
Carry a Notebook
Similar to the established routine, a personal notebook acts as a safe haven for your thoughts and ideas, not to mention appointments and general to-do lists. Carry it with you wherever you go, and you’ll always have something to fall back on. Think of it as a personal, portable memory handbook, while Alzheimer’s Society has published an essential how-to guide of how to remain in control of your daily tasks.
Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating and drinking well is critical to our health and overall well-being. This is particularly true for dementia patients, who may struggle to recognise their own thirst, or forget to drink entirely, leading to headaches and increased confusion.
Meal times are also an opportunity for activity and social stimulation, while certain food types may trigger a sense of nostalgia. A high-calorie diet may be appropriate for late-stage dementia, in which case we always recommend consulting your GP or dietitian.
Decaffeinated Drinks and Limited Sugar
Medical research has long proven that too much caffeine and sugar can cause a spike in our mood and our energy levels. For dementia patients, cutting out sugar and refined carbs is key to a healthy lifestyle, while raw leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with brain-boosting antioxidants.
The Brain Health Food Guide recommends some of the staples of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to a 35 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
More information on a low-sugar diet can be found on the Chatelaine website.
Don’t Let Dementia Define You
A final note: A dementia diagnosis shouldn’t see your world grind to a halt. There are lots of things you can do to retain your independence while still at home – even if that means asking for a little help every now and then.
If you feel like you could benefit from our One2One service – regardless of whether you’re a dementia patient or not – you can talk to us in confidence on 028 90 347731.