If you are caring for a person with dementia, a big part of your role is to ensure they have the best quality of life possible. People who have dementia will still enjoy taking part in activities, and also like to do useful things. As a carer, it’s our job to facilitate meaningful activities, help with the daily routine and share moments together.
With the right care and suitable surroundings, people with dementia can have an enjoyable, productive and satisfying life for many years. The following are some of the things to consider to help improve the quality of life of the person in your care.
Ensure they Feel Safe and Comfortable
Ensuring that the person with dementia feels safe and comfortable is one of the most important things you can do to improve their quality of life. Adapting the home and adjusting their daily routine to suit their needs are the key ways to do this. Both of these things will help to reduce any confusion about time and space, which makes them feel more secure. It’s also important to judge the amount of help that the person needs in their daily routine and getting around. By communicating with them to find the right balance, you can ensure they feel capable and independent while still getting the help that they require.
Create a Relaxed Environment
This will be different for every person, as different personalities find different things relaxing. Some of the things that can help to create a relaxing environment include soft lighting, instrumental music and aromatherapy. A person with dementia who has always liked animals may also respond well to pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy. According to experts, the unconditional love that a pet gives can be very soothing and for a person with dementia.
Ensure they Still Feel Useful
People with dementia who have always been active and practical want to continue to do so long after their diagnosis. While their reducing abilities may make it more difficult to do some of the things that they have previously done with ease, it’s important to assist them in continuing to participate in such activities.
Find activities that will make the person in your care feel useful, as this will help to raise their self-confidence. Someone with dementia can help to hang clothes out to dry, peel vegetables, file papers, help young relatives with craft projects, and walk or take care of a pet.
It’s important to remember that a person with dementia may make a mistake, lose interest halfway through a task, or do it very slowly. As such, patience is key when carrying out these tasks.
Add Fun-Filled Activities
People with dementia still want to have fun. It’s important to ensure there is time in the day for fun activities such as creative projects, social outings, puzzles and games. Choose an activity that the person enjoys doing and encourage them to take part.
They may particularly enjoy doing these types of activities with their grandchildren or other friends or family members. Having visitors come to the home can also be very enjoyable for someone with dementia, and provide them with much needed social interaction.
Alternatively, going out can be a great activity. Outings should be planned well, and it can be useful to do a bit of research into places and times that will be most appropriate for the person in your care. Ensure outings are not overdone, as new surroundings can be stressful for a person with dementia. In addition, take cues from them, as they may no longer want to go to certain places that they used to enjoy. Shorter outings are also typically better as someone with dementia may get tired quicker. Finding the right balance is key.
When it comes to organising fun activities, it’s important to bear in mind that the person in your care may not want to take part in the activity that you organise. While some encouragement is good, if they are completely uninterested or tired, don’t force them to join in. Remember that for someone living with dementia, even simple, everyday tasks can be difficult, stressful and tiring.
Relax and Have Conversations
With such a busy day as a carer, it’s easy to forget to have some downtime and relaxation with our loved one. The person in your care will enjoy time spent talking, relaxing, or sharing memories. If you are caring for a family member, this time can be as simple as listening to old music and discussing favourite songs, watching old movies together, and looking at family albums.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is not easy. However, you are not in it alone. There are a number of resources that can help, such as caregiver support groups. Or, why not try the Dementia Live® course that immerses carers in the experience of living with dementia? This empowers carers with powerful insights for effectively communicating with patients.