Dementia is a condition in which there is a loss of memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of the ageing process.
The type of care and living environment people with dementia receive greatly influence the joy they continue to get from life. It is clear that for people living with Dementia regular participation in pleasant and meaningful activities can reduce depression, increase feelings of competence, and improve relationships with family members resulting in a better quality of life. Here are 7 tips for people living with Dementia to make most of each day:
- Meaningful Activities: People living with Dementia want to feel useful. Don’t assign them work just to occupy their time. Look for other ways they can contribute to the workload. Some examples include: Folding laundry, Dusting, Grooming/walking a pet, organizing household items, Tend the garden, and Setting the table. These activities help to boost self-esteem and improve cognitive function.
- Engage in conversation: For people with Dementia expressing their thoughts is important to them and you. It helps to identify their needs and feelings so one can better understand them. One way to help is by using family photos. Look through the albums together and let them tell you about the photos that they can recognize. You can repeat this activity frequently when they are willing to participate in the conversations.
- Regular Exercise: Regular exercise improves the quality of life at all stages of dementia. Maintaining physical fitness allows people to remain independent for longer, allowing them to perform daily tasks with more ease and leading to an improved emotional state. It also increases cardiovascular health, which improves blood flow to the brain, as well as muscular strength that can reduce the risk of falls.
- Music Therapy: Music can improve memory recall, improve mood, and allow people living with dementia to regain a sense of identity, and even reduce the need for pharmaceutical pain management.
- Good Nutrition: Make mealtimes pleasant and calm, eat together to add a social element to the meal, and use gentle encouragement rather than forceful persuasion. Take note of their favourite foods and try to combine them with more nutritious food sources. Often large portions can be difficult for people with dementia to manage, so changing to smaller more frequent meals can ensure they are getting enough calories and nutrition throughout the day.
- A Calm Environment: The agitation and irritable behaviours many people associate with dementia can often result from discomfort with their environment. Any item that makes sudden noises, like doorbells and clock chimes, can be upsetting, so it may be a good idea to disable them. Arrange calming activities such as reading together during periods of agitation to help regulate mood and behaviour.
- Pet Therapy: Pet therapy allows them to interact with animals free from social judgment and pressure, and the result is calmer, more engaged patients. It can also increase their frequency of physical activity, provide emotional support, and an outlet for communication issues, and even restore a sense of purpose and order to their lives when caring for an animal.
Over to you:
Though dementia is a debilitating disease, it does not mean that the person has completely lost all sense of self. Maintaining a good quality of life is not only respectful to the person but can also be highly beneficial for slowing the effects of dementia and improves the quality of life.