What are the most effective tips you find helpful when dealing with a loved one living with dementia? We hear that it can be challenging to deal with changing behaviours, or unknowns. We have put together a list of the common challenges we hear, and a tip for each. We hope that these will offer a fresh perspective for consideration. It can be difficult in the moment to step back and consider these tips, but we hope that a simple reminder is helpful. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below about what tips have resonated most with you.
Challenge: my loved one wanders.
Tip: Here are some common reasons for wandering: agitation, restlessness or boredom; confusion about time and place; overwhelmed or uncomfortable; or change in routine. Can you address any of the underlying conditions? Will it help? Keeping familiar objects around your loved one also can bring them comfort to reduce the agitation.
Challenge: My loved one is unstable, and often falls
Tip: Use chairs with arms, to keep your loved one safe. Also, if you have black or dark coloured rugs, it can look like holes in the floor to someone living with dementia. Try to avoid having them hold objects when they walk (especially on stairs), to avoid lack of coordination.
Challenge: Important things go missing- my loved one hides things.
Tip: Keep important/valuable objects locked away to make sure they don’t get lost. For example, replace wedding rings or important jewellery with fake jewellery to keep the originals safe.
Challenge: My loved one refuses to go to an adult day program. They insist that those are for “old people.”
Tip: Present it as an opportunity to assist and volunteer at the program, which will reinforce the contributions that your loved one makes.
Challenge: My loved one becomes very agitated when looking in a mirror
Tip: If mirrors begin to agitate them, cover them with sheets. Mirrors can lead to confusion and sadness for someone living with dementia.
Challenge: Communication is so challenging.
Tip: Be sure to give your loved one enough time to respond. They may process information slower than they used to. Make it easy for them to be able to interact. While we all like choice, choices can be overwhelming, so try not to offer more than 2 things at a time.