HOW can you help someone who is suffering from dementia?
The Alzheimer’s Society has sadly announced that Dementia Action Week has been postponed until the end of the year. Whilst social isolation is not a new concept for people living with dementia, enforced separation from extended family and loss of social routine is placing increased strain on families living with the disease.?
Annabel James, founder of Age Space, the one-stop resource for elderly care and advice, has provided top tips and expert advice on caring for elderly relatives with dementia during lockdown.
- Stay connected?
This is really important for the carer, whose physical interaction has been dramatically reduced. There are many ways to stay connected these days but blessed with time, we favour some of the older methods. Get the grandchildren to write letters, draw pictures and print photos with an accompanying story.?
Photographs are a great memory tool. This might be the perfect time to organise old photos and to revisit special times. You could create a life story book, writing a brief synopsis to each picture – something to look forward to sharing with younger generations.
It’s good to talk – encourage your parents to chat to neighbours over the garden fence. As long as you stay at least two metres from each other, it’s okay and it will be a welcome social respite.
This is an opportunity to get your parents active online. Spend time connecting and teaching them how to use?Skype?or House Party. Maybe even progress to the wonderful world of social media. They might even reconnect with old friends via Facebook.?There are guides on the Age Space site.
- Listen to music?
Those with children might remember the witching hour. The same thing happens with people living with dementia – they?become more agitated, aggressive or confused during late afternoon/early evening. This is referred to as ‘Sundowning’ and often happens in the middle and later stages of dementia. Music can be incredibly calming during the sundowning hours. It is a good idea to listen to some tunes and help them reconnect with happy memories.?Check out?BBC Music Memories?or ask family to?create a?playlist of favourite songs using iPlayer or Spotify.?Playlist for Life?has information about music and dementia, and advice about how and when to listen to it. ?
- Keep mentally and physically stimulated?
Creative and activity-based apps and games are a good way of keeping brains active and staying busy.?AcToDementia?is a useful website for online games. The?Alzheimer’s Society have an?online shop?with a variety of offline puzzles and games.? Amazon is offering a 30-day free trial for their audio books on?Audible.?Great for readers who can no longer focus on the page.?
Sport England?has lots of ideas on how to keep active while staying at home. They are broadcasting a daily 10 minute activity session?called 10 today on?BBC Radio 5 Live, designed for older adults. You can also listen to this online.
If you live with someone with dementia, this might be a useful time to put pen to paper and share your story to help others. Visit the Alzheimer’s Society?blog writing page?for more information on getting started. ?
- Sense of purpose?
Keep to a routine - waking every morning and knowing you have a plan for the day can make a massive difference.??Write a list of everything you enjoy doing, both together and independently. Include people you want to reconnect with and those you’d like to talk to regularly. Make a timetable of meals to cook, special treats to bake, programmes to watch, puzzles to complete and books to read.? Treat yourself to something nice every day. This could be as simple as a cup of tea with a book after your partner has gone to bed. Maybe treat yourself to a takeaway or a small gift – a book, flowers or nice hand cream. For remote family members, this is a lovely way of letting your parents know you are thinking of them and boosting their day.
- Do not suffer in silence
If you feel that living with dementia has become too much and someone might be in danger, make sure you call your GP and/or social services for help. They will be able to visit for a?care assessment?and recommend the next steps in terms of care.