It’s often thought that those diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s will steadily lose their quality of life. While cognitive decline is certainly part of the process, there are things you can do as a caregiver to maintain as much quality of life as possible. Regardless of the stage of their disease, they need to be stimulated every day, both in mind and body!
Engage Them in Conversation
Cognitive activity is so very important for Alzheimer’s and dementia. They need to have at least a half hour per day of just keeping the brain active with engaging conversation and other cognitive activities. Doing crossword puzzles or trivia games is a great way to stimulate the mind while also having fun. Using physical touch by guiding their hands also helps them with tasks they might otherwise find difficult or frustrating.
Physical stimulation is just as vital as mental stimulation when it comes to maintaining quality of life. Dementia patients need to move and have physical activity each day. This could be in the form of walking, light exercise or even dancing. Nothing makes them feel young again quite like dancing! Try to set a goal of at least 30 minutes daily for some form of physical stimulation. This is especially true for those who were active before they were diagnosed. If you are unsure what is safe, talk to a physical therapist about exercises that encourage range of motion and prevent stiffness in joints and muscles.
Engage in Self-Expression
Everyone needs to have a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life. Help them nurture their spirit by engaging in activities that help them express themselves and do what they love. Art, music, cooking, writing are all wonderful ways to express joy and nurture the spirit. Don’t forget to reminisce and tell stories! Dementia patients often have excellent long-term memory, so they will love to talk about the good old days! Finally, if they are a person of faith, accompany them to church where they can pray, sing, and worship.
Connect with Others
This might be the most important tip of all. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be very isolating which leads to depression easily. Find ways to help them socialize by getting together with friends or taking advantage of adult day care services. Assisted living facilities often have activities where older adults can gather and enjoy each other. The idea here is to maintain as much normality as possible, especially if they were socially active beforehand.
Living with dementia can be a challenge and it is definitely a learning process for both the patient and the caregiver. Finding what works may take some time, but is well worth the effort to maintain quality of life! Encourage friends and family to drop in for visits and share a meal. Above all else, assure them they are valued and loved.
For more ideas on how to maintain quality of life while living with dementia, please contact us today!