Dementia is an illness which has a huge emotional, social, psychological and practical impact on a person’s life. If you have a family member who has Dementia, then it can be very hard on you too. Dementia is something that affects many people, not just the people who have the disease itself, and there are many other factors other than the symptoms of Dementia that affect the people living with Dementia such as the relationships they have, the environment they are in and the support they receive. All of these things are central to their lives, and you can help a person with dementia to feel valued and included.
If you are close to someone who is suffering from Dementia then there are a few things you can do to help yourself and in turn help them too, because understanding the impact of the condition and how the person might think and feel will impact how they behave. Remember that everyone is different though, each person is unique, they still have their personality and their own likes and dislikes, and it’s essential to focus on what the person still does have, not on what they may have lost. It is also vital to focus on what the person feels rather than what they remember.
There are some practical tips as well that can help you to help someone with Dementia, especially in the early stages. It’s not going to cure the illness, but there are things you can do to to help someone maintain their independence:
- It’s essential to encourage them to write things down to help them remember things. Suggest they keep a notebook or diary for things such as appointments, tell them to make to-do lists and even keep a note of their thoughts and ideas.
- It’s essential for them to keep crucial things and everyday items such as money, their keys and glasses in the same place each day, this will help them to maintain a routine and help them to know what’s going on.
- Helpful reminders with labels on doors and cupboards can be handy and really easy to make. If you have a vinyl cutting machine, these can be helpful, and you can read more about them here www.vinylcuttingmachineguide.com.
- Make sure that relevant and useful phone numbers are kept where they can be easily seen.
- Put notes on the back of the front door as reminders to take keys and other important items out.
- It’s an excellent idea to label family photographs, both on the walls, around the house and in albums too.
- A timetable of what’s happening each week can be handy, and if you put it somewhere, it can be easily seen.
- Having a calendar is essential too; you should make sure that it is marked with the date or get an electronic one that changes automatically.
- Also write reminders to lock the doors at night, turn the gas off and put the rubbish out on a particular day.
- Invest in some helpful tools; there are some really good ones on the market now such as telephones where buttons are replaced with photos of people, and pillboxes with compartments for different days.
Remember that people who have Dementia can also suffer from low self-esteem and loss of confidence, so it’s essential to keep this in mind and be patient with them. Their emotional connections to people and their environment are vital to their quality of life.