For anyone who has received a diagnosis of dementia, the future can seem very frightening. It is important that carers and care providers understand how you are affected and how to help you with any distressing symptoms so that you can continue to live as independently as possible.
There are many different types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. There are various similarities between the symptoms of most forms of dementia and a very common issue is memory loss. There are plenty of practical ways of supporting a person with memory problems. Even something as simple as labelling drawers with their contents can help to make daily life easier. Making lists for shopping or things to do can help everyone, but can be particularly useful for a person who is living with dementia.
There are also many different aids to memory such as calendar and day clocks that can keep the person living with dementia oriented to time by a clear display showing what time of day (or night) it is. If you frequently mislay small items such as keys or a purse, a locator device can help you to find them. An electronic tag is attached to the item and when a button on the locator device is clicked it will beep, enabling you to find whatever has gone missing. You can use this yourself but it may also be helpful for your carer or family members.
Keeping safe is a major issue for some people who have dementia. They may not recognise hazards so devices that can alert carers if they leave the house at night or are absent from bed for longer than they should be are very useful. These can work in various ways including by pressure pads placed under mats or alarms near doors. They can also be programmed to remind the person, in a friendly and familiar voice, that they should go back to bed.
If you are living with dementia you may become increasingly confused about the environment but there are practical ways of making this easier to interpret. Contrasting colours can be used to make crockery and cutlery easier to use. The toilet seat should contrast with the bowl, and items such as soap and towels should also be in contrasting colours.
Handrails around the house can help with mobility and safety and these should also contrast so that they are easy to identify. People who have problems with perception may struggle in dealing with certain patterns or shiny surfaces, so these should be avoided where possible and it may help to remove mirrors that can cause increased confusion.
Because every individual is different, it is important for carers and care providers to take into account their specific needs and do whatever they can to support the person with dementia to achieve the best quality of life they can.