Help For People With Dementia – You might think about it when it comes to the activities you have planned for the weekend: family outing, errands, movie night. Or, if you are a parent, you can think about your children’s activities: karate, piano lessons, boy scouts.
If you are a professional who works at a facility, you may be thinking about the facility’s planned activities for residents. Activities have a different meaning for people with dementia than the examples listed. It has a much broader meaning and a much greater impact.
Help For People With Dementia
When we think of “activities” for people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, we need to broaden the scope of the word. In fact, as the disease progresses and the person becomes less capable, the activities that count as a person’s “activities” should become broader.
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Activity comes from the word act or “to do something.” So literally ‘activities’ = ‘doing things’. This is central to occupational therapy, just as ‘doing’ = ‘occupation’. So activities can include things like outings, business trips and family events. But it can also include the more mundane things in life, like balancing your checkbook and brushing your hair. To get an idea of all the different things we might do during the day (i.e., activities), it’s helpful to look at this list of some of our daily activities, which is used as a guide to occupational therapy practice (Source: Occupational Therapy: Field and Practice).
When you think about dementia, which of the following areas or activities of daily life do you think are affected? Finally, everyone. In general progression, IADL and work skills are lost first, followed by ADL and social participation skills. Sleep and free time can be affected at any stage of the disease.
I think the loss of capacity that occurs with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is pretty well known. But what is not so well known is that these people CAN continue to do things, just with change and support to get them done! The modifications and support that will be needed will depend on the type of activity and the stage of the disease.
How Does Dementia Affect Everyday Life?
Caregivers may inadvertently take over doing things for the person, even though the person may still do part of the task or do it differently. When this happens, the person can become more sedentary and unfit, and lose skills more quickly. By adjusting activities and providing support, there are ways that a person can continue to do things, just differently.
Here is ongoing guidance on how to gradually scale up activities to ensure success through the various stages of dementia
Supervision: The person needs supervision to help recognize mistakes and solve unexpected problems, then only general supervision.
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Prompts: The person requires verbal and/or physical prompts. It could be the question “what do you do next?” or indicating the next step or required item.
Direct Verbal Cues: The person needs more than just prompts, but instead the caregiver directly tells them what to do each step of the way.
Installation: Place the soap and dish towel next to the dirty dish sink. The person can then complete the action.
Alzheimer’s Disease Care
Monitoring: The correct water temperature is monitored and then the dishes are checked to see if there are any missing spots.
Hints: Missing space or “what next?” is reported. asked when the dishes have been washed but not dried.
Direct Verbal Cues: The caregiver gives step-by-step instructions, such as “Pour the soap in the water. Rub the plate with the washcloth,” etc.
How To Offer Help To Someone With Dementia Who Doesn’t Want It
Maintaining an active life not only benefits the person with dementia, but can also help the caregiver structure the time of day and reduce dementia-related behaviors.
If you think of activities not just as events, but as all the things we do in a day, you are the first step in helping people with dementia stay more active. Then find the activities in which the person can and would like to continue to participate, and identify the necessary accommodations and support. You can click below to access a very helpful guide – our 10 Tips for Staying Active with Dementia.
Monika is an occupational therapist and creator of MindStart products, which are specially tailored for people with dementia. LEARN MORE ABOUT MINDSTART PRODUCTS A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a carer, refers to anyone who cares for another person. Millions of people living in the United States care for a friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Sometimes carers live with or close to the person, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia is not just the job of one person, but a role of many people sharing duties and responsibilities. No matter what type of caregiver you are, caring for another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and advice can help with daily care and activities.
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In early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, memory, and thinking in ways that affect daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple daily tasks. This may include bathing, grooming and dressing. The person may have an overwhelming need for assistance with such personal activities. Here are some tips to consider in the early stages and as the disease progresses:
Communication can be difficult for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia because they have trouble remembering things. They may also become agitated and restless, even angry. In some forms of dementia, language skills are impaired so that people have difficulty finding the right words or speaking. You may feel frustrated or impatient, but it is important to understand that illness causes changes in communication skills. To facilitate communication, you can:
Eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle is good for everyone, and it’s especially important for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. As the disease progresses, it can be increasingly difficult to find ways for a person to eat healthy foods and stay active. Here are some tips that can help:
The Canadian Charter Of Rights For People With Dementia
As a caregiver or family member of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, you can take steps to make your home a safer place. Eliminating hazards and adding safety devices to the home can help a person have more freedom to move independently and safely. Try these tips:
The National Institute on Aging funds Alzheimer’s disease research centers in the United States that offer support groups and programs for people with dementia and their families.
Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You may also feel angry, which could be a sign that you are trying to take on too much. Finding time to take care of yourself is important. Here are some suggestions that may provide some relief:
How To Encourage Independence In Someone With Dementia
Read and share this NIA infographic to help spread the word about taking care of yourself while taking care of others.
Making health care decisions for someone who is no longer able to make them can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead for health directives. To help you plan for the future, you can:
Knowing about your loved one’s disease will help you know what to expect as dementia progresses and what you can do about it.
Ways To Help Individuals And Families Living With Dementia
Learn how to respond to changes in communication and behavior, provide routine care, and get help when needed.
Explore NIA’s free publications on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, health care, and healthy aging. Also available in Spanish.
Use this free public service by searching online or calling toll free to connect to services in your community.
Help People With Dementia Participate In The Outside World
Learn about healthcare providers in the US, the impact of care delivery, and how to develop a care plan. Also available in Spanish.
Read about support responsibilities and ways to get help, and find links to information on specific support topics. Also available in Spanish.
Find a support line, a caregiver support coordinator, special programs for veteran caregivers, and other resources such as self-care activities and tips and tools.
Help People With Alzheimer’s Stay Engaged
The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Education and Referral Center (ADEAR) is a service of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. Call 800-438-4380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with an information specialist.
This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date. Although a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is devastating, there is growing evidence that the progression of the disease can be slowed with various types of memory rehabilitation. As scientific research on cognitive decline continues to evolve and new therapies are introduced, people diagnosed with dementia may sometimes find that they remain independent
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