Living well with dementia: 21 tips

Dementia-Action-Week-2019

 

As part of Dementia Action Week 2019 (20-26 May) the Wycombe District Dementia Action Group have put together some top tips to help those living with dementia, their carers, and anybody wanting to plan ahead.

The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they have become severe enough to affect daily life. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a series of strokes.

Taken from the Alzheimer’s Society's The Dementia Guide: Living Well After Diagnosis, the below tips provide 21 ways to help you live well with dementia.

More information and support can also be found on the Alzheimer's Society website or you can call their National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.

 

Top tips for living well with dementia

#1 Get in touch with Alzheimer’s Society to find out about local services for you and your carer.

#2 As a carer it is vital to look after your own health and wellbeing which will help make sure you can do your best to care for the person living with dementia. Free and advice and support is available from Carers Bucks at www.carersbucks.org.

#3 Make sure you have an up to date will. Set up a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare and property and affairs; this will allow someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you’re no longer able.

#4 Understand more about your diagnosis – for example, the type of dementia you have and what your medications are for.

#5 Try to support and encourage them to continue to do as much as they can for themselves. When you help out, try to do things with them, not for them.

#6 Talk to your bank about a ‘third-party mandate’ which will allow someone else to deal with your bank account.

#7 Talk to others about how you’re feeling and ask your GP if there are any therapies or activities that could help you.

#8 When communicating, make eye contact, listen carefully, be aware of your body language and speak clearly.

#9 Having a diagnosis of dementia doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop driving but you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about your diagnosis and your insurer.

#10 Ask social services for a community care assessment and a carer’s assessment this aims to find ways to help you maintain your independence and quality of life.

#11 Put yourself in their shoes – try to understand how they might be feeling and how they may want to be cared for. Free and advice and support is available from Carers Bucks www.carersbucks.org.

#12 You and your carer may be entitled to a range of benefits, if you have dementia you may be eligible for Attendance allowance, your carer may also be eligible for Carer’s allowance, ask social services, Citizens Advice Bureau or Age UK.

#13 Try some methods to help you cope with memory loss, try using a large diary, and perhaps keeping it next to a calendar clock. Also try keeping important items such as keys or glasses together in the same place.

#14 When caring for someone with Dementia, you’re likely to experience a wide range of emotions at different times. Try and take time to reflect on how you’re feeling, and talk to someone you trust. Carers Bucks have a helpline which is free of charge: 0300 777 2722.

#15 To have a say in your future medical care, you can also set up an advance decision. Talk to your GP or solicitor about this.

#16 Introduce exercise to your daily routine and review your diet to make sure it’s balanced making sure you drink plenty of fluids. Being active and social can help you retain skills and memory, as well as improve your self-esteem, sleep and well-being.

#17 Much of how you care for the person will come naturally and be based on instinct. You will probably know the person best and you shouldn’t underestimate the value you can bring to their care. It is important to continue to see the person and not just their dementia.

#18 If you have property or savings you might set up a trust. This will ensure things are managed the way you have chosen now and in the future. Seek advice from a solicitor or a financial adviser.

#19 Try to make your home safer. Remove things that are easy to trip over and install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. You could also use automatic timers for plugs, lights and heating.

#20 At times people with dementia behave differently from how they used to. While it can be very difficult its best to deal with any potentially tense situations as calmly as you can – take some deep breaths or leave the room for a while if you need to.

#21 It’s possible to continue working after a diagnosis of dementia this might help you feel better physically and emotionally. But if you are experiencing difficulties in your job, consider talking to your employer or getting advice.

 

More information and support can also be found on the Alzheimer's Society website or you can call their National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.