Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
- Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
- Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
- Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
- Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
- Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
- Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?
Preserving Your Loved Ones Independence
Take steps to slow the progression of symptoms. While treatments are available for some symptoms, lifestyle changes can also be effective weapons in slowing down the diseases progression. Exercising, eating and sleeping well, managing stress, and staying mentally and socially active are among the steps that can improve brain health and slow the process of deterioration. Making healthy lifestyle changes alongside your loved one can also help protect your own health and counter the stress of caregiving.
Help with short-term memory loss. In the early stages, your loved one may need prompts or reminders to help them remember appointments, recall words or names, keep track of medications, or manage bills and money, for example. To help your loved one maintain their independence, instead of simply taking over every task yourself, try to work together as a partnership. Let your loved one indicate when they want help remembering a word, for example, or agree to check their calculations before paying bills. Encourage them to use a notebook or smartphone to create reminders to keep on hand.
Following A Partner Or Carer Around
Dementia makes people feel insecure and anxious. They may “shadow” their partner or carer as they need constant reassurance they’re not alone and they’re safe.
They may also ask for people who died many years ago, or ask to go home without realising they’re in their own home.
- have the person with you if you’re doing chores such as ironing or cooking
- reassure them that they’re safe and secure if they’re asking to go home
- avoid telling them someone died years ago and talk to them about that period in their life instead
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Do Not Try And Alter Undesirable Behavior
Lack of understanding may push one to try and change or stop any undesirable behavior from patients who have dementia. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to teach new skills or even reason with the patient. Try instead to decrease frequency or intensity of the behavior. For instance, respond to emotion and not the changes in behavior. If a patient insists on always asking about a particular family member reassure them that he or she is safe and healthy as a way of keeping them calm and happy.
How To Cope When Your Spouse Has Dementia
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011. This article has been viewed 50,548 times.
A part of marriage is caring for your spouse when they are sick or ailing. Although a spouse with dementia may not visibly appear sick, this person is suffering from memory loss and confusion. Watching your spouses mental abilities deteriorate may be difficult. You may feel uncertain about how to help your spouse with dementia and how to adjust to this major life change. By redefining your marriage and accepting your new roles, asking for support, and taking care of yourself, you can handle this new season of your life.
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Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:
- Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
- Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
- Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
- Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
- Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
- Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
- Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
- Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.
If You’re Looking After Someone With Dementia
Your needs as a carer are as important as the person you’re caring for.
To help care for yourself:
- join a local carers’ support group or a specialist dementia organisation â for more details, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm at weekends
- call Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline free on 0800 888 6678 to talk to a registered specialist dementia nurse lines are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends
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The Alzheimers And Dementia Care Journey
Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But youre not alone. In the United States, there are more than 16 million people caring for someone with dementia, and many millions more around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers or dementia, it is often your caregiving and support that makes the biggest difference to your loved ones quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.
However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved ones cognitive, physical, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, its easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout. And nearly all Alzheimers or dementia caregivers at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury its a necessity.
Just as each individual with Alzheimers disease or dementia progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can aid you as a caregiver and help make your caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging.
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Make Time For Reflection
At each new stage of dementia, you have to alter your expectations about what your loved one is capable of. By accepting each new reality and taking time to reflect on these changes, you can better cope with the emotional loss and find greater satisfaction in your caregiving role.
Keep a daily journal to record and reflect on your experiences. By writing down your thoughts, you can mourn losses, celebrate successes, and challenge negative thought patterns that impact your mood and outlook.
Count your blessings. It may sound counterintuitive in the midst of such challenges, but keeping a daily gratitude list can help chase away the blues. It can also help you focus on what your loved one is still capable of, rather than the abilities theyve lost.
Value what is possible. In the middle stages of dementia, your loved one still has many abilities. Structure activities to invite their participation on whatever level is possible. By valuing what your loved one is able to give, you can find pleasure and satisfaction on even the toughest days.
Improve your emotional awareness. Remaining engaged, focused, and calm in the midst of such tremendous responsibility can challenge even the most capable caregivers. By developing your emotional awareness skills, however, you can relieve stress, experience positive emotions, and bring new peace and clarity to your caretaking role.
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Sundowning And Care At Home
Alzheimers and dementia can be difficult conditions to live with, not just for your loved one but also for the extended family. Thats why more and more people are turning to live-in carers to help with loved ones who are in the late stages of dementia. Employing a highly experienced and compassionate caregiver can be a relief to families who are struggling to cope with the demands of the disease, and the peace and calm that a skilled carer can bring to a household are beneficial for everyone.
Live-in carers can provide a range of dementia care services, from simple companion care to the specific demands of dementia. They remain calm under pressure and can cope with emergency situations, making them a great option for families who are concerned about residential care for their loved ones.
They can provide genuine support throughout the day and night, which can make a significant difference for families who are finding things challenging. The cost of live-in care in the UK with Elder starts at £1095 per week.
Even if you think that you are coping well with your loved one, a period of live-in respite care can be helpful for anyone dealing with the particular demands of sundowning, allowing you to return from a short break or holiday refreshed and ready to face the challenges ahead.
Getting funding from your local authority
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Tips For Common Behavior And Mood Changes
Aggressive & Threatening Behavior
Sometimes things can get out of control and feel very scary. These are tips and strategies for dealing with especially challenging behaviors. If you think that you or others may be in immediate danger, call 911.
The person with dementia is threatening you or acting physically violent, such as hitting, pushing, or kicking you
- Give the person space and time to calm down.
- Stay out of arms reach and position yourself near the exit.
- Avoid small spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and cars.
- Remove or secure objects that could be used as weapons.
- Reduce background noise .
- Keep a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
- Go outside, to a neighbors house, or public place if needed to stay safe.
- Take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
- Empathize/apologize: I am sorry this is so frustrating.
- Offer reassurance: I know this is difficult. It is going to be okay, or I am here to help.
- Give yourself a break take time to care for your own needs.
- Get help .
- Tell the dispatcher your name and location and that your family member has dementia. Tell the dispatcher if a weapon is involved.
The person with dementia is angry and accusing you of something that is not true, such as stealing from or cheating on them
The person with dementia is throwing fits or having emotional outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, or banging on things
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Do Not Keep Correcting The Patient
People with dementia do not like it when someone keeps correcting them every time they say something that may not be right. It makes them feel bad about themselves and can make them drift out of the conversation. Discussions should be humorous and light and one should always speak slowly and clearly using simple and short sentences to capture and keep the interest of the dementia patients.
Tips To Prevent Confusion
While you can try to monitor the daily situations and interactions your loved one faces, ultimately you cannot control the world around them. Accidents and emergencies happen. Being prepared to respond, console and care for a confused senior is the best way to support their well-being.
Assisted living professionals offer the following tips to family members seeking to prevent confusion and agitation:
Create a calm environmentBeing overstimulated by loud talking, commotion, and unfamiliar faces causes stress for seniors with dementia. Having a quiet space that is comfortable can provide refuge to an overwhelmed loved one. Comfort objects such as blankets or clothing items can provide a distraction and added security.
Monitor personal comfort and any additional symptomsMake sure your loved one has taken their medications properly. Ensuring that they have eaten, had enough water to drink, and received adequate sleep is also important. Being vigilant about personal care can help seniors with dementia be more comfortable.
For more information about adult day care as a transition into full-time assisted living, read our Why Adult Day Care is Important article.
How To Respond To A Confused Senior
Even if you do everything within your power to provide a comfortable, safe environment for your loved one, the nature of the disease makes confusion and agitation inevitable. Know that you are not responsible and that help is available for you both.
Follow these 4 Steps to Responding to a Confused Senior with Dementia or Alzheimers Disease:
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Do Try And Identify The Trigger That Causes Behavior Change
After spending some time with a patient who has dementia, caregivers may be in a position to identify some of the things that make dementia sufferers yell, get physical, or change their mood. For some, it may be something simple such as taking a bath or even getting dressed.
The best approach to handle this is not to force the patient to do something that they do not want to do. Try and distract them with something else that allows them to relax and calm down. Once they are not a danger to themselves or anyone around them, try going back to the subject, but this time reassuringly and calmly.
Why Sundowning Happens
If you ever wondered why dementia patients are worse at night, sundowning is the answer. Sundowning happens because someone who has dementia cannot maintain circadian rhythm, which our internal body clock that tells us when its time to be awake and when we should sleep. We spend our lives establishing these rhythms, but the deterioration of brain cells that causes Alzheimers also destroys a persons sense of the time of day.
A person who is tired is more prone to aggravation, obviously, and so someone getting tired without the sense that its almost bedtime can become especially confused. Lighting and issues like shadows can be an issue later in the day around sunset, and dietary issues can also contribute to sundowning. Lack of routine is something else demonstrated to contribute to sundowning.
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Why Choose Home Care
Home care allows seniors to stay in their homes while receiving daily support.
Some seniors choose home care because they need assistance with general daily tasks.
Home health agencies are there to offer vital services for seniors looking to keep their independence and enjoy a familiar environment.
Home care enables elderly people to live independently for as long as possible, and thats what many want.
Here are three good reasons to pick home health care:
- Home health agencies offer services that enable seniors to stay in their homes but receive the attention they need if necessary.
- Home care keeps seniors close to their loved ones
- Home care agencies have trained caregivers on hand 24/7 to help with day-to-day activities