Caring for people with Dementia
Tips for handing persons with Dementia
Tips for managing problem behaviour in Dementia
Patience is the key
Keeping the person safe is one of the most important aspects of caregiving. Some people with Alzheimer’s disease have a tendency to wander away from their home or their caregiver. Knowing how to limit wandering can protect a person from getting lost.
Make sure that the person carries some kind of identification or wears a medical bracelet.
Consider enrolling the person in the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program if the program is available in your area (see “For More Information” to contact the Association). If the person gets lost and is unable to communicate adequately, identification will alert others to the person’s medical
Notify neighbors and local authorities in advance that the person has a tendency to wander.
Keep a recent photograph or videotape of the person with Alzheimer’s to assist police if the person becomes lost.
Keep doors locked. Consider a keyed deadbolt or an additional lock up high or down low on the door. If the person can open a lock because it is familiar, a new latch or lock may help.
Install an “announcing system” that chimes when the door opens.
Install secure locks on all outside windows and doors, especially if the person is prone to wandering. Remove the locks on bathroom doors to prevent the person from accidentally locking himself or herself in.
Use childproof latches on kitchen cabinets and anyplace where cleaning supplies or other chemicals are kept.
Label medications and keep them locked up. Also make sure knives, lighters and matches, and guns are secured and out of reach.
Keep the house free from clutter. Remove scatter rugs and anything else that might contribute to a fall.
Make sure lighting is good both inside and outside the home.
Be alert to and address kitchen-safety issues, such as the person forgetting to turn off the stove after cooking. Consider installing an automatic shut-off switch on the stove to prevent burns or fire.
Be sure to secure or put away anything that could cause danger, both inside and outside the home.
For the exhausted caregiver, sleep can’t come too soon. For many people with Dementia , however, the approach of nighttime may be a difficult time. Many people with Dementia become restless, agitated, and irritable around dinnertime, often referred to as “sundowning” syndrome. Getting the person to go to bed and stay there may require some advance planning.
- Encourage exercise during the day and limit daytime napping, but make sure that the person gets adequate rest during the day because fatigue can increase the likelihood of late afternoon restlessness.
- Try to schedule physically demanding activities earlier in the day. For example, bathing could be done in the morning, or the largest family meal could be served at midday.
- Set a quiet, peaceful tone in the evening to encourage sleep. Keep the lights dim, eliminate loud noises, even play soothing music if the person seems to enjoy it.
- Try to keep bedtime at a similar time each evening. Developing a bedtime routine may help.
- Limit caffeine.
- Use night-lights in the bedroom, hall, and bathroom if the darkness is frightening or disorienting.
- Don’t expect too much. Simple activities often are best, especially when they use current abilities.
- Help the person get started on an activity. Break the activity down into small steps and praise the person for each step he or she completes.
- Watch for signs of agitation or frustration with an activity. Gently help or distract the person to something else.
- Incorporate activities the person seems to enjoy into your daily routine and try to do them at a similar time each day.
- Try to include the person with Dementia in the entire activity process. For instance, at mealtimes, encourage the person to help prepare the food, set the table, pull out the chairs, or put away the dishes. This can help maintain functional skills, enhance feelings of personal control, and make good use of time.
- Take advantage of adult day services, which provide various activities for the person with Dementia, as well as an opportunity for caregivers to gain temporary relief from tasks associated with caregiving.