10 Best Living with Dementia Tips & Advice

living with dementia

There are ways and approaches that make living with dementia a lot less stressful on the person, loved ones and caregivers.

For most people, a positive dementia diagnosis means a life sentence full of nightmares and all the bad experiences imaginable.

These feelings are heightened by the fact that there is still no cure for the illness.

It is, however, important to note that living with dementia does not have to be the worst thing a person can go through.

Guide on Living with Dementia

Below you will explore some of the tips and recommendations that a person with dementia can work with to live a more fulfilling and independent life for the longest possible time.

1. Accept your Situation

living with dementia
After getting to know that you have dementia, it is tempting to keep the news to yourself and pretend that everything is in place.

This is the wrong move.

It is advisable to share the news with people who care about you.

It does not mean that you have to go on the rooftops and shout about your health condition.

Take as much time as you need but when you are ready, do not shy away from sharing this news with people you love whether it is your relatives or friends.

This way, they will be in a position to understand what you are going through, especially when you start going through some changes that the disease causes.

Communicate

As you share the news, it is important to understand that different people will take in the news differently.

Some will be shocked and they may immediately start treating you differently.

It’s important to communicate about dementia.

Many will do this because they do not know what dementia is and have no clue what to do to help.

Try and explain what your diagnosis means and also tell them the ways that they can be of assistance.

For instance, if you cannot drive, your support system can step in to drop and pick you up when you need to go somewhere.

As much as it is hard to accept, you can also find that you might lose touch with some individuals.

Try and take these changes in your relationships positively.

After all, you might end up meeting new people in support groups or while engaging in different activities.

2. Learn about Dementia

learn about dementia
Millions of people around the globe are battling with dementia and new cases are coming up every year.

A person who is living with dementia needs to have in-depth knowledge of the illness to live well with the condition.

Thankfully, there is a wealth of information about dementia, including its stages and helpful treatments.

Your doctor should give you details about the illness and also offer referrals to valuable resources.

Empowering yourself means that you will be more equipped to face the challenges that lay ahead. You will also know how to better handle the symptoms you get.

3. Take Care of Your Whole Being

living with dementia by taking care of your whole being
What this means is that you need to take good care of your physical body, spiritual, psychological, and emotional health.

In regards to physical health, it is important to engage in exercises that you can handle with ease.

You also need to check what you are consuming so that you are always eating a balanced diet. This way, the body will get the nutrients and minerals it needs to boost your immune system.

Take care of your psychical and physical health

Getting enough sleep is non-negotiable.

It is also prudent to take care of your mental health by participating in stimulating activities that you can find in classes or hobbies. Various group activities are also fun.

Your doctor might also propose that you cut down on smoking and drinking alcohol or stop altogether.

When it comes to emotional health, remember to allow yourself to go through a range of emotions, especially when you first get the news.

After accepting the situation, you can go ahead and join a support group. It is best to join one with people who have dementia, whether offline or online.

Also, it is a great coping mechanism because you will not feel like you are alone and members of the group can help each other through their journeys.

It is also crucial to find something that will nourish you spiritually.

Some individuals may gravitate towards spending time in nature, religion, or calming activities like yoga.

Do all it takes to live a happy, stress-free life when dealing with dementia.

4. Plan Ahead

people with early dementia need to plan ahead
Sadly, it may reach a point where a person living with dementia is not able to make proper decisions.

For this reason, it is vital to plan for your future when you are still independent and can make sound decisions.

Long-term plans for dementia

1. Choosing a person you trust to act on your behalf in terms of managing your medical and financial needs.

2. Creating a will so that after breathing your last breath, your possessions, money, and property will go into the persons you pick.

The state gets to decide who will get what if you die without having a valid will.

3. Making a statement in advance about the care that you want to receive during the later stages of the disease as well as where you want to receive the care from.

This is a written statement that will highlight your beliefs, wishes, preferences, and values in terms of future care.

The person that you choose to handle important issues in the future will be your attorney. Failure to pick an attorney means that no one will have the right to make decisions when you are not able to.

This is something that can make things difficult for your family because they may not be able to pay bills or make good decisions about your care.

When it boils down to this, a person may be forced to apply to become your deputy at a Court of Protection. This is a costly process that may end up taking a lot of time.

5. Live in a Dementia-Friendly Environment

live in a dementia friendly environment
An individual who has dementia should live in a comfortable and safe environment.

If you choose to live at home, some modifications that can be done to create a suitable living environment.

Some of the changes that you can make around the home include working with a recognizable and meaningful interior design that incorporates your life story complete with words and pictures.

Making sure the house has good natural lighting is also important when you want to reduce shadows and glare.

Detectors for falls, GPS, alarms, and sensors can help boost security.

A tablet or smartphone can also come in handy because you can use this to organize your life, keep track of what is going on, revisit videos, and photos, and also communicate with your relatives and friends.

6. Stay Active and Busy

people with dementia to stay active and busy
When you are living with dementia, it becomes easy to withdraw socially and wallow in self-pity. You must resist this urge if you want to enjoy a quality life even into the later stages of the illness.

Staying active is also important because it will give you a sense of self-worth and purpose.

Find activities that you love and enjoy them to your heart’s content. Many service providers today are sensitive to the needs of a person who has dementia.

Occupy your body and mind

For instance, some cinemas put on dementia-friendly screenings which means you can go out and enjoy the latest film.

Many leisure centers also run appropriate activities for persons with dementia which means that you have a long list of activities to choose from.

When moving about, it is imperative to carry a card that will let other people know you have dementia.

The card should include details of a person that others can contact if you get lost or are in some sort of emergency.

When you do not have the energy to jump or move around, there are other ways to keep busy. Examples of these include listening to music or doing crosswords.

If you have grandchildren, you can offer to babysit for a few hours. There is also the option to volunteer to avoid the risks of loneliness, isolation, and depression.

7. Follow Routines

People with dementia need to follow routines
Sticking to routines is another way that people who have dementia can live well.

Do the same thing at the same time each week or day. This is bound to reassure you while at the same time stimulating your memory.

Having set schedules can also help you reduce the time you spend thinking about what needs to be done next.

If you always forget about things you need to get done regularly, you can pin your to-do-list on prominent places. This can include things like switching off lights or locking doors.

Some people with the illness also say that it helps to carry a notebook and pen around where you can write down the tasks you need to complete in a day.

You may also find that it is helpful to put important things like keys or glasses in the same place daily so that you do not have a problem locating them.

Additionally, a clock that shows the day of the week and date can come in handy.

8. Set Realistic Goals

set realistic goals for dementia patients
It is not uncommon for a person who has dementia to want to prove to the world that they are overachievers and the disease is not pulling them down.

This may lead a person to become over-ambitious where they want to handle more than they can chew in regards to day-day activities.

When you find that you cannot do all the things you set out to it can be frustrating and you might even fall into depression.

For this reason, it is important to set realistic goals so that you only focus on things you can do and complete without too much struggle.

Seek help when necessary

Remember that it is okay to ask for help from professional caregivers, family, or friends when you are in need.

When you decide to take up any task, give yourself adequate time to complete it first so that you are not always rushing into new tasks creating more confusion.

Most importantly, do not pressure yourself to be successful. Accept that there are things you were once able to do in the past that you can no longer complete at present.

It is better to focus all your attention on the things you can control, rather than spending hours on the ones you cannot control. Even as people are helping, make sure that they are not taking over.

The people around you might end up offering more help than you need which will leave you with nothing to do.

9. Coping At Work

coping at work
During the initial stages of the disease, a person living with dementia may choose to continue working.

If you choose to take this route, it is important to let your boss know about your current health situation if you are employed.

Employers have a legal duty to take necessary steps to ensure you can continue working without too much difficulty.

This can include simplifying routines, changing work schedules, or availing technology like a computerized diary that will remind you of meetings and deadlines.

If you do not want to continue working, first research on matters pertaining to pension and other benefits you are eligible for before leaving the workforce.

This way, you will not be short-changed in any way.

10. Go for Regular Hearing, Eyesight and Dental Checks

go for regular hearing eyesight and dental checks
Having dementia most of the time means that you will also experience sensory loss. This makes it hard for you to make sense of the world.

Because of this, you must regularly schedule oral, hearing, and eyesight checks to live well with dementia.

Ideally, you should consult a professional who has experience supporting persons with the illness.

During these visits, your doctor may recommend the use of hearing aids or glasses.

Do not avoid doctors

You should never ignore dental checks because poor oral hygiene can, at times, affect your eating and drinking abilities.

At home, you should also take care of your dental health by brushing your teeth at least two times a day, flossing, and eating healthy foods that will not lead to cavities and other oral health problems.

If you are using dentures, ensure that they are comfortable. You can always set reminders to guide you on the times to remove and wear them.

Cognitive and Physical Exercise and Dementia

exercise and dementia

Today, we will look at the best cognitive and physical exercise and dementia correlation, and how you can reduce the risk of the disease.

Developing dementia is one of the biggest concerns for the majority of people as they grow older.

The thought of getting the disease can be quite scary, especially for someone who has seen a loved one affected by the illness.

Benefits of Cognitive and Physical Activity for Dementia

Many individuals believe that all they can do is wait for a pharmaceutical cure for dementia and hope that they do not join the growing list of seniors with the disease.

Promising research, however, indicates that it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia through several effective yet simple lifestyle adjustments.

These include taking steps such as stress management, a healthy diet, quality sleep, social engagement, mental stimulation, and regular exercise.

By identifying and then controlling personal risk factors, it is possible to prolong/ maximize lifelong brain health.

Below we will focus on physical and cognitive exercise and the role they play in mitigating or slowing down the progression of dementia.

Cognitive Exercise

cognitive exercise
In regards to cognitive exercise and dementia, it is worth noting that continuously challenging the brain and learning new things puts you at less risk of developing dementia.

What this means is that you “will lose it if you do not use it.” Keeping the mind active is essential if you do not want your thinking capacity to decline medical research discloses.

This can help you in several ways, such as:

1. Reduce brain cell damage that occurs with dementia
2. Encourage better communication between the nerve cells
3. Support the growth of new nerve cells

Note that no single exercise will keep the brain sharp. You need to indulge in different exercises that will ensure your brain remains in the highest gear.

Some of the exercises you can try out to exercise your brain include:

Acquiring a new skill

acquiring a new skill
Learning how to play a musical instrument, studying a foreign language, reading a good book, or learning how to paint, etc. can be instrumental in helping the brain remain in tip-top condition.

Look around for classes you can join and set aside some time to practice regularly.

Keep in mind that the higher the challenge, novelty, or complexity, the greater the benefit.

Playing card or board games

playing card or board games
Playing games with loved ones has two benefits.

One is that you get an opportunity to bond and the other is that it helps the brain to stay sharper by making it work harder.

In as much as games like chess are fun to play, some research shows that it can lead to better math scores on various standardized tests.

Games like monopoly have also proven to enhance decision-making skills while sharpening cognitive function.

Puzzles are a great way to keep your recalling abilities high. These effects also help to keep dementia at bay.

Practice memorization and the 5Ws

exercise and dementia practice memorization and the 5Ws
When you start memorization, it is best to practice with something short before moving on to more complex things.

For instance, you can always start with the US capital states or books of the Bible, etc.

Creating patterns and rhymes can help to make memory connections stronger

When you are watching TV shows that may involve themes like crimes or feature detective, you can keep the brain active by thinking of the “Who, Why, When, Where, and What.”

When you capture these visual details repeatedly, you will keep the brain neurons firing.

Playing with children

playing with children
This is another excellent option everyone should be aware of when curious about exercise and dementia.

The young ones have vivid and rich imaginations that directly link to memories.

When a person spends time playing with kids, you join their interesting world. This is typically a world full of unusual details the brain needs to keep remembering.

Doctors also note that adults who take time to play with kids have low-stress levels.

Additionally, heart rate, blood pressure, and high cortisol levels can drastically reduce.

Staying in good moods for longer periods helps to preserve the brain as well as its higher functions.

Read books with problem-solving mysteries

read books with problem solving mysteries
Problem solving is one of the proven ways to exercise your brain. One of the easiest ways you can do this is by solving puzzling mysteries.

You can find these online or in books. Try and tackle at least one mystery every day.

This will baffle the mind forcing you to think deeply so that you can come up with a solution. It is an entertaining way of getting the brain to work.

Gardening

gardening
If you are a person who likes to connect with nature while tending to plants, gardening should be on your list of keeping the brain sharper.

Many people not only feel better, but they also do better after gardening sessions.

Experts suspect that exposure to natural light, touching the earth, getting into contact with soil probiotics, and satisfaction of seeing things grow helps to enhance brain function and mood.

Listening to soothing music

listening to soothing music
Playing music also falls into the category of group activities to be discussed when tackling the topic of exercise and dementia. Good music tames and soothes.

Research shows that listening to Mozart can help make babies smarter.

Musicians are also said to have a lower risk of developing dementia than the rest of the people.

Music is a combination of breath control, exercise, dexterity, memory games, science, math, art, listening feelings, and a lot more.

Although more research still needs to be done, it is possible that music therapy can help combat dementia. It is not all types of music, though.

Genres like jazz, ethnic, and classical offer the most benefit.

Physical Exercise

physical exercise
The other part to highlight when talking about exercise and dementia is the physical aspect.

You cannot dispute the fact that people who exercise frequently are healthier, make better food decisions and retain their mental health longer than the people who do not exercise.

Although exercise will not work on the brain directly, it positively affects levels of blood oxygen, hormones, and the nutrient load that flows in the body.

When you have better control of your body, it benefits the brain because it receives adequate levels of blood, nutrients, and oxygen.

Aerobic exercises especially help to improve memory and thinking because they help to increase heart rate.

Staying physically active has also been known to increase flexibility, strength, and also improve the quality of sleep.

This is a move that can help to reduce the development of dementia. When you exercise daily or several times a week for about 30-60 minutes, you may:

1. Keep learning, reasoning, and thinking skills sharper.
2. Delay the onset of dementia for individuals who are at risk of developing the disease or slow down the advancement of the illness.
3. Enhance judgment, reasoning, memory, and thinking skills for persons who have mild cognitive impairment.

To benefit from physical exercise, it is important to identify safe and enjoyable activities for a person’s ability level.

Some of the ideas you can borrow from include:

Walking

walking
This is one of the best exercises that a person can take part in. You do not even have to be outdoors to enjoy a great walk. An individual can decide that walking inside their house does them justice.

Regardless of the amount of time you take engaging in this activity, it is beneficial for the mind and body.

To make walking more pleasant, you can combine it with an errand such as rushing to the grocery store or walking your pet.

Dancing

dancing
If you enjoy dancing, you will not even feel as though you are engaging in exercise.

Dancing is a fun way to let loose and get the body moving a great addition to the things you need to do when discussing exercise and dementia.

You can opt to do this freestyle. This is where you switch on the music and burst your favorite move.

You can even get together with a couple of friends and head to the disco if this is something you will enjoy.

Alternatively, take things a notch higher and sign up for a professional dance class. The goal is to have a blast while doing some good for your entire body.

Weight or resistance training

weight or resistance training
This is where you work out muscles against an external force. This type of exercise offers multiple benefits.

These include increased flexibility, bone density, tendon, muscle, and ligament strength, improving posture, and metabolic rate.

Yoga

yoga
Although yoga cannot be described exclusively as a physical exercise, it is important to mention it as the activities to try when thinking about exercise and dementia.

Experts advise that you combine yoga and medication for the best results. This can help to improve focus, de-stress, reduce anxiety, enhance mood, and increase healing among many other benefits.

Although it is still difficult to understand specialists explain that a meditating brain is different from the awake brain.

Studies are underway to help people grasp this concept more.

Regular physical and cognitive exercise is crucial for everyone to stay mentally and physically fit.

This is despite the fact that extensive research needs to be conducted to show the degree of physical and cognitive exercise that helps to improve memory or slow down the advancement of cognitive decline.

15 Fun And Exciting Dementia Activities 2021

dementia activities

With simple, fun, exciting and stimulating dementia activities, you can help reduce stress, anxiety and the development of depression.

Not only that, if a person with dementia feels scared all the time or is in anger, keeping them engaged in different activities and exercise can relieve the condition.

Besides, and most importantly, with daily movements and motions, you can also help them slower the process of going from one stage of dementia to another.

Activities and exercise not only boost mood, brain blood flow and keep one get to a better state, they also connect people.

In some cases, family and friends struggle to keep the synergy with the person with dementia, and introducing different activities might help remarkably well.

With different dementia activities, you can also help bring back memories. For instance, if they really liked to cook or bake, you can have a lot of fun with them in the kitchen.

Moreover, if their hobby was painting, get a blank canvas and turn it into a masterpiece with them. The options are endless.

Easy and practical dementia activities

1. Exercise

exercise for person with dementia
Exercise has been of great benefit to people who have dementia. This dementia activity helps seniors to sleep peacefully, makes them feel energized and reduces the extent to which they can fall into depression.

As their bodies tend to be more fragile, it is best to start with exercises that take little time, perhaps five minutes. However, add a minute every day until they can comfortably exercise for 30minutes every day.

Ensure to engage in an exercise the person loves to participate. It could be cycling, aerobics, walking or dancing.

Notice: dancing is especially rewarding. Show how it is being done and ask the person to follow your steps. If it is an exercise that involves going to a class, you could try to attend the class together to motivate him/her.

2. Introduce them to physical activities

physical activities
Physical activities help seniors feel they are useful at home. Take note of their interests or ask them what they love to do. By knowing what they want, you will be able to tailor their physical activities towards what they like.

Amongst others, one dementia activity to keep seniors happily engaged is towel folding. As it is easy to do that, seniors will feel successful.

Whether they folded it to your taste or not, they would feel good knowing more at what they do. Whatever activity they want to engage in, ensure it is one that will make them feel successful.

3. Animal/doll therapy

animal therapy
This is one of the best dementia activities that has worked for a lot of seniors. If your senior loves animals, you can buy a pet they love. Over times, pets are known to relieve owners of stress and reduce anxiety.

Incorporating pet therapy will help boost serotonin, make them feel good and secure as well as lower their blood pressure.

You can also include doll therapy. Provide the senior with a doll, a cot, baby cloth, and a basin. They will feel like they have a kid who they take care of thereby giving them the needed relief.

4. Build a memory box

build a memory box
People who have dementia tend to lose their memory and sense of judgment more than any other person. A great way to help those with dementia is by building a memory box.

The memory box is a dementia activity that can help an older adult feel connected to activities that happened in the past. Get a box and fill it with their photos and tools that remind them of their career and their hobbies.

If the senior used to be a teacher, you could fill the box with a pen, marker, books, even jotters.

5. Loosen knots

loosen knots
Older people with dementia tend to be anxious especially when they do not have an idea of what they are doing or when they are not comfortable in their immediate environment.

You can help them feel relaxed by giving them a task that requires their patience. Telling them to untie a knot is a great dementia activity to help them manage their situation.

Get a long thick rope from your local store, tie a few knots and give it to your older adult to loosen.

Tell them to take their time with it rather than struggle to finish up. You can help by showing your older adult how the task can be calmly solved.

6. Create a picture puzzle

create a picture puzzle
Get a favorite family picture that includes every member of the family. Ensure it is a picture that your senior or older adult cherishes.

If you do not have a family picture, you can print an image of their favorite pet, favorite movie character, favorite artist or anything that calls their attention.

Laminate the picture to make it handy and cut the laminated picture into six or more puzzle shaped pieces.

Give your older adult the pieces and tell them to fix the puzzle. It is a fantastic way to help them keep a focused mind.

7. Take your older adult out

take your older adult out
Older adults get easily bored. Most of them grumble in regards to their lonely condition. Constant grumbling leads to depression. You can minimize their problems by taking them out.

Have them go out with you, take them shopping, walk around the town, take them to an amusement park or a place that will be of interest to them. Help them derive pleasure through what they see.

However, when you go out with your older adult, ensure they do not go out of sight as you may lose them. Since they might not remember anything, things may get complicated for you.

8. Let them read

let them read
Reading is a means to keep the minds of your older adult occupied. If your older adult loves to read, you can give them their favorite book and ask them to read.

You can ask them to read to people around. In a case where it seems difficult for them to read, you can read for them, as well as remind them of the focus of the book.

When you are done reading, you can ask them what they have learned. If it is a controversial topic, you can request your older adult’s opinion.

This dementia activity is a terrific way for them to be knowledgeable about a subject matter and is a better alternative to TV series.

9. Pom-Poms game

pom-poms game
A challenging game like Pom-Poms is helpful for older adults. You can make use of color cardboards for easy identification when you want to introduce this game to your older adult.

Give older adults the pom-poms and give them containers that share the same color with the pom-poms.

Afterward, instruct them to place the pom-poms in the container with the matching color. In case they are beginning to have color blindness, Pom-poms game is an excellent way of improving their ability to identify colors and differentiate them.

10. Initiate conversations

initiate conversations
It is quite common that old and lonely people keep to themselves. You can make them feel at home by initiating conversations that will be of interest to them.

It could be in sports or fashion or anything at all. Tell them what you think about the latest trend and ask for their opinion.

You can go as far as showing them YouTube videos of their favorite celebrity or club. Doing this will help them connect to their youthful days thereby boosting their mood and making them feel important.

In a case where you are unavailable, a good way to initiate and sustain conversation is by displaying insects. You can build your own home ant farm for your older adults to examine in great detail.

Ants can keep them occupied for a long time. Do not be surprised if you come back home and see them talking to the ants.

11. Music therapy

music therapy
If you want to please your older adult, play their favorite music or popular music known to their age. Listening to music is one dementia activity that provides comfort. It can evoke emotions and help older adults regain their memories.

Introducing music therapy is one of the best ways for them to also connect with their past.

You can stay with them to listen to their favorite song together. You can also create a playlist of their favorite music genre.

Besides, you can go as far as giving them percussion instruments to play them. So, even if you are not with them, they would not feel lonely.

12. Engage them in discussions about their life

engage them in discussions about their life
While dementia causes a decrease in how the brain functions thereby creating a loss of memory, people who have dementia tend to lose information stored in their short term memory easily.

Here, you can talk to them about their lives.

It could be events that happened when they were young or a significant event that affected the life of your older adult. This act will help them talk freely and also allow you to know more about them.

It is best to get a video recorder to record whatever your older adult says. After that, you can give it to them to watch over and over again.

Older adults tend to have mood swings. So if they are not interested in what you are trying to do, leave them and try again later. Do not focus on the result but focus on the process.

Make them happy, and the result will be seen naturally.

13. Nostalgia

nostalgia
Know this, even once dementia starts progressing that does not mean that a person loses memory completely. It is the short-term memory that is affected first.

However, when it comes to long-term remembrance, a person with dementia can still recall a lot from their childhood, the time they went to high-school and even early working days.

With this in mind, getting them nostalgic about old times and reminiscing about their wedding day could be a fun and exciting dementia activity you can play at any given time of the day.

You can even create cards or read from their diary if they had one and together go back in time. Sometimes, the simplest things and exercises can have the most positive impact on a person.

14. Baking or cooking

baking or cooking
One of the easiest ways of getting a person with dementia involved in an activity is by baking or cooking delicious dishes.

Keep in mind, you do not need to go after a souffle right away. Instead, stick to simple recipes, even such that involve just one pot. Of course, it is important to know how well their motor skills are, so it does not come to injuries.

However, a simple solution would be just not to let them use a knife. They can stir soups or knead the dough, even wash vegetables, the simple tasks in the kitchen are numerous.

15. Wander through nature

wander through nature
While we already listed quite a few dementia activities here, this particular one can be one of the most rewarding ones.

Not just that, it is also one of the most simplistic. And even if the person with dementia has a hard time walking, you can put them in a wheelchair and together wander through nature.

The sights, the smells, the sounds and all just viewing nature, in general, are beneficial for the body and mind. Viewing things far away is also very good and can boost our energy almost immediately.

Even if it is a small forest that you visited hundreds of times, the next time you visit it, you might see something you have not seen before. Enjoy and feel good.

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