Every year World Alzheimer’s Day takes place on 21st September. It’s a day on which individuals and organisations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia. This year we’ve put together a handy list of practical tips for people caring for someone with dementia.
- Learn more about the type of dementia that they have as this will help you to support them with memory loss and it will aid their emotional well being. You can learn more about different types of dementia here, while NHS Choices Libraries stock books on dementia and local carer groups and are very helpful. Once you understand about the type of dementia your loved one has you can try out some strategies to support them.
- Try not to ask too many questions as they can feel overwhelmed. Instead make statements like, ‘it is time for a cup of tea, I am going to put the kettle on’ or, ‘I have turned the shower on for you’.
- Try not to judge. Sometimes it takes a few moments to gather your thoughts when you have memory loss, and you can easily be left behind if too much information is given at once. Keep things simple, speak slowly and clearly.
- Simple and practical changes can make a big difference:
- Label cupboard doors with written labels or pictures can help in areas like the kitchen.
- Coloured stickers can help with on and off switches.
- A diary that you can both check daily can help with appointments and socialising (a large desk diary is usually the best type).
- Put medication in daily trays or in a special container, such as a Dosette box, to help remember to take them on the right day and at the right time. This can encourage independence when taking tablets and help to prevent mistakes.
- Lay out clean clothes each evening and remove the ones that need washing can help with dignity and cleanliness.
- Keep as active as possible with plenty of exercise and stimulation and do thing together like:
- Share interesting stories in the newspaper – read them out to each other.
- Play number and word games like dominos, cards, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. If these are too difficult, use pictures or photographs to share stories from the past – together you will be able to remember a lot of detail about your earlier life. Write some of the details down so they can be shared with others. Use prompts like ‘tell me the story when you …’
- If following TV is getting difficult try pre-recording some of your favourite programmes or buying some DVDs. Choose things that are not too complicated or too long.
- Music can be calming and enjoyable as it does not involve too much information – you could put a play list of favourite music together. Some people find wearing head phones helps them concentrate and relax.
How Admiral Nurses can help carers
Admiral Nurses provide the specialist dementia support that families need. When things get challenging or difficult, our Nurses work alongside people with dementia, their families and carers: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions. The unique dementia expertise and experience an Admiral Nurse brings is a lifeline – it helps families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear. If there isn’t an Admiral Nurse service in your community, then the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline is a free service available to everyone in the UK and it’s open seven days a week. Call 0800 888 6678 or get in touch online.