When a person with dementia finds that their mental abilities are declining, they’re likely to feel anxious, stressed and scared. They may be aware of their increasing clumsiness and inability to remember things, and this can be very frustrating and upsetting for them.
If you are looking after someone with dementia, you can help them feel more secure by creating a regular daily routine in a relaxed environment where they’re encouraged and not criticised.
Involving the person you look after in everyday tasks may make them feel useful and improve their sense of self-worth. They could help with the shopping, laying the table or sweeping leaves in the garden, for example.
As the illness progresses, these tasks may become harder for them to manage independently, and you may need to give them more support.
How you can help
Offer support sensitively and try not to be critical of their attempts. It can be very important for the person with dementia to feel that they’re still useful.
In the early stages, memory aids can be used around the house to help the person remember where things are.
For example, you could put pictures on cupboard doors of what’s inside, such as cups and saucers. This may help to trigger their memory and enable them to retain their independence a little longer.
Keeping up hobbies and interests when someone has dementia
Many people with dementia will still enjoy their hobbies or interests. For example, if they like cooking, they may be able to help make a meal. Going for a walk or gardening can provide exercise and fresh air. Or they may prefer listening to music or playing a board game. Caring for a pet cat or dog can bring a lot of pleasure to some people.
If the person you care for was very sociable and outgoing, or if they have a large family, they may really enjoy visits from one or two family members or friends. But remember that they may struggle to keep up with conversations if they have a lot of visitors at the same time.