Calming activities are encouraged that are "failure free". Favorite puzzles or music that is quiet and relaxing. Having a specific task to focus on helps the brain to create new thought patterns.
An episode of agitation or aggression can be due to an inability to communicate basic needs. Check to see if your loved one is hungry, thirsty or needs to use the bathroom.
Homemaking activities can be modified in ways that match a person's abilities. Example: If setting the table is confusing because it involves many steps, hand the individual just one item at a time and give instruction where to place it. Once that step has been completed move on to the next and so on. Templates can also be created as a reference guide of what the finished product should look like. Some caregivers have outlined the shape of utensils on reusable placemats to aid in successful placement.
Try and arrange for visits, trips and activities that require a lot of energy for mornings or early day. Many people who are living with dementia tend to function better during the first half of the day. Set them up for success whenever possible.
Simplify tasks or break down the steps. For example, if setting the table is confusing because it involves many steps, hand the individual just one item at a time and give instruction where to place it. Once that step has been completed, move on to the next.
Avoid stimulants and large dinners late in the day.
People living with dementia often have a desire to feel purposeful and needed just as much as anyone else. Having your loved one help with household tasks can be both therapeutic and crucial to restoring sense of purpose.
Since Sundowning reduces light in the environment, it can create disorientation and cause visual distortion. Make sure that you turn on the brightest lights.
When memory and cognitive function declines in someone who has dementia, the brain compensates by an increase in emotional reactivity. Mirroring can be helpful in influencing the response of your loved one. In other words, model the behavior and temperment you hope to see in your care partner. For instance, a smile evokes a smile or calm elicits calm.
The natural reaction of many caregivers is to try and explain to their loved one why they should or should not do something. Sometimes we try and convince them it is for safety purpose, for their own good, or it is because we care about their wellbeing. While all of these reasons may be true, the trouble is that explaining things to someone with moderate to late stage dementia often isn't helpful. The care recipient no longer has the capacity to understand reasoning and sometimes an explanation can further confuse or frustrate the person. Other helpful suggestions in this situation are to distract, divert or agree.
When we debuted the Caregivers Ballad to a group for the first time and asked the audience for feedback, one listener said, "I think there may be a typo with the line, 'I forget not to explain.'" This listener thought we meant to say I forget to explain, and we discussed with her that the sentence was intended as such to remind the caregiver that explaining is not always helpful with someone living with dementia.