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11 Tips on How to Manage Care for your Loved One with Dementia

11 Tips on How to Manage Care for your Loved One with Dementia

Submitted by Guest Contributor:
VerifyCare Team

Alzheimer’s and related dementias change your loved one’s thinking, reasoning, and memory. As their dementia progresses, your loved one will be more dependent on you or others for daily tasks such as eating or bathing.

Everyday care will bring more challenges as your loved one moves through the stages. Every individual with dementia will experience symptoms and progression differently. Use these tips and tailor them to your loved one’s needs to ensure the best care.

1Learn about your Loved One’s Needs

Learning about your loved one’s needs can help you better plan for their care. As your loved one’s experience changes in their physical and cognitive ability, they will eventually require more assistance. Learn about their routine and the tasks they need help with.

To compile a list of tasks, use a mobile app such as VerifyCare to schedule and record vitals or tasks. Within the app, you can create a schedule for when these tasks need to be done and how often.

VerifyCare on Memory Cafe Directory
Courtesy VerifyCare

2Stay on a Daily Routine

Keep a consistent routine when planning daily activities such as mealtimes, bathing, waking up, and bedtime. A routine will help your loved one have a sense of structure and familiarity.

Dementia gradually weakens your loved one’s ability to plan, initiate, and complete an activity. Your loved one will feel confused and agitated when introduced to new activities. By creating a sense of familiarity through a consistent routine, your loved one will feel calm and comforted.

When planning activities, there are some things to consider, such as the history of their daily routine. What was your loved one’s routine before being diagnosed with dementia? Carefully plan their day by also considering their current capabilities. Avoid significant changes to your loved one’s routine as it can be confusing for them. Allow some flexibility for their schedule, especially for difficult days.

3Keep a Care Journal

Keep relevant notes such as upsetting triggers and how you can help avoid them. Use a care journal to keep a record of the care provided so others can review the journal regularly. Having a care journal to share is helpful for others involved in your loved one’s care.

VerifyCare on Memory Cafe Directory
Courtesy VerifyCare

4Know your Loved One’s Favorite Activities

Plan meaningful activities your loved one enjoys and try to do them at the same time each day. Their favorite activities will keep them busy and help improve their mood. If they enjoyed gardening, spend time outside and plant seeds with them or water some plants. Doing the activities they love may trigger helpful memories.

Prioritize physical activity to keep your loved one active. Play music while exercising to stimulate memories and cognition. Make sure to give your loved one ample time to rest between activities.

5Keep them Safe

Everyday situations can sometimes make your loved one feel unsafe or even put them at risk of danger. To keep them safe:

  • Arrange their home to create more space for them.
  • Remove clutter and tripping hazards to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Use assistive devices such as non-slip mats for stairs and handrails for both sides of the stairway.
  • For bathrooms, install grab bars next to the tub/shower and near the toilet.
  • Install child-proof latches to lock up potentially dangerous items such as knives, scissors, and cleaning products.
  • Secure large types of furniture to prevent them from tipping over.
  • Keep a spare set of keys so you gain access to your loved one home at any time.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander at least once; and many do so repeatedly. Even if your loved one has never wandered before, it can happen at any point. Understanding what triggers them to wander is not easy. To ensure their safety and prevent your loved one from wandering, follow the tips below.

  • Make time for daily exercise to reduce your loved one’s restlessness.
  • Keep car keys out of their sight. They may forget they can no longer drive.
  • Install a home security system with window and door alarms to monitor when they leave the house.
  • Observe your loved one’s response to new surroundings. Do not leave them unsupervised if they feel confused and agitated in new places.
  • Inform the police and your neighbors about the possibility of your loved one wandering.
  • Keep a recent photo of your loved one and a list of places they might wander to, such as previous homes or workplaces.
VerifyCare on Memory Cafe Directory
Courtesy VerifyCare

6Administer their Medications Safely

Your loved one may frequently change medications based on how their symptoms progress. They will need help with their prescription refills, and you will have to ensure there are no drug interactions or side effects.

Try using a Medication Management system, like the one found in the VerifyCare app mentioned above. VerifyCare’s Med Management module allows you to view medication and supplement details such as dosage, frequency, drug interactions, or side effects. Organize medications and receive reminders so your loved one will never miss a dose. Mark a medication as taken to avoid other family members or caregivers administering the same medication twice.

7Stay Organized

You will need to keep track of your loved one’s information, such as health records, emergency contacts, prescriptions, and other relevant documents. Ensure these documents are easily accessible to you and other family members involved in your loved one’s care.

Other than relevant documents, organize your loved one’s pictures in photo albums or scrapbooks. Use photos of family members, friends, and places both past and present. Arrange their pictures by date to create an accurate timeline for your loved one. Their photos allow them to reminisce on old memories and connect with recent events and people in their present lives.

8Take Time for Yourself

By focusing on your loved one’s care, it’s easy to forget your own needs. Plan regular checkups with your doctor and pay attention to the signs and symptoms of severe stress. Take time away from caregiving to spend time with other family members and friends. Pursue your favorite hobbies or do whatever brings you joy. It’s essential to keep your mind and body healthy, so you can continue providing the best care for your loved one.

9Ask Others for Help

You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Ask for help from family or friends during times you feel overwhelmed. Distributing tasks between others can lighten the burden not only for you but for everyone involved in your loved one’s care.

10Communicate Caregiving Responsibilities

Now that you have help in caring for your loved one, you need to coordinate caregiving responsibilities. With everyone’s busy schedule, it’s possible to overlook tasks assigned to them. Create a daily plan for your loved one’s care and communicate with others to review the responsibilities assigned to them.

11Plan Ahead

In the early stages of dementia, your loved one can still maintain their independence under your support and care. As their dementia progresses, they will eventually need around-the-clock assistance. Start planning early with your loved one and involve them in the decision-making process. Discuss legal and financial matters, as well as options for in-home and long-term care. Though planning may be overwhelming for you and your loved one, you will find comfort knowing you have included them in the decision-making process.

VerifyCare Team

VerifyCare on Memory Cafe DirectoryVerifyCare is an organizational support app for any kind of caregiver. Manage your loved one’s medications, create custom tasks, coordinate schedules with your care team, and more.

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