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.
When times get tough and emotions run high, it is important to remember that difficult behaviors are caused by the disease and not the person.
When your emotions or temper become increasingly difficult to manage, WALK AWAY. Taking a short break to cool off can make a big difference.
Rather than listening to just any music, try to listen to music your loved one is familiar with. Sirius XM or even many cable channels have music by era. The ideal music would be tunes that they listened to while they were a teenager or in their early twenties.
Create a list of the care recipient's favorite movies and television shows. Watch these old shows together and reminisce about how times were growing up. Take a break while your care recipient relaxes with some old classics.
Some sample games:
If you are caring for an avid sports lover, you may try mini golf, Wii bowling, a beanbag toss or attending a Little League game. You can also arrange for several people to get together to watch a big game on television. Or, perhaps you can try sorting through and organizing sporting cards.
GLSS has created a Caregiver Toolkit that supports enhancing the lives of someone with dementia and their caregivers using items selected from evidence-based research. These items can all be found online and were purchased through amazon.com. We have included the item list and a description of their benefit if you would like to replicate the kit. This list can also be used as suggestions on obtaining items of your choice that may also satisfy these areas or meet a personal budget.
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.
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.