Caregiving for a Loved One with Dementia or Memory Loss
May 21, 2018
Over time, people with dementia or memory loss may need additional help with daily tasks. Common tasks include eating meals, taking medications, exercising regularly, as well as personal care needs, such as bathing and dressing. Creating a routine for daily activities can help reduce stress. Be aware that your loved one’s abilities can change from day to day.
Activity and exercise
Regular activity is good for your loved one’s body and mind. Stick to your loved one’s old routines when possible. It also helps to:
Do things together. Go for a walk, garden, or bake a cake. Basic, repetitive activities are good choices.
Be active as often as possible. This releases excess energy, which can reduce restlessness and improve sleep.
Include social activities. Take your loved one to see friends and family. But try to keep things simple. Loud noises, crowds, or too many people talking at once can be upsetting.
Be sure all prescribed medicines are taken as directed. These tips can help:
Provide supervision if your loved one can't safely take medicines alone.
Set a routine so medicines are taken at the same time each day.
Ensure that all medicines are taken. A pillbox can help you keep track.
Plan ahead. Refill prescriptions before they run out.
At mealtime, serve healthy foods with plenty of fluids. Be sure to
Keep meals simple. Too many choices can be overwhelming. Try to maintain a calm, quiet atmosphere while you eat.
Place healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit, out where they can be seen.
Watch eating habits. People with dementia may eat too little or too much. Talk to the healthcare provider if you have concerns.
Try finger foods if regular meals become too difficult for your loved one to eat.
People with dementia may have trouble choosing what to wear. But if help is needed:
Choose clothing that is easy to put on and take off. Use shoes or slippers that fasten with a hook and loop.
Lay out a fresh outfit each day. Place clothes in the order they should be put on.
If more help is needed, hand over clothing items one at a time. Explain how each item should be put on.
Put dirty clothes away so they’re not worn again.
Bathing and grooming
Getting your loved one to bathe can be a real challenge. Try these tips:
Treat bathing as a routine activity - but be flexible. A daily bath is probably unrealistic.
Prepare bath items ahead of time, and be sure to test the water temperature.
Don't leave your loved one alone in the bath or shower.
Try visiting a barbershop or beauty salon for help with hair washing, hair styling, and shaving.
If you have trouble meeting your loved one’s needs, it may be time to get additional help. There are many options available to those who need additional care as well as their caregivers.
Connect with others by attending a memory care/dementia support group
This support group provides individuals who are caring for a loved one with dementia or memory loss the opportunity to talk with others in similar situations. For more information, call Caring Circle at (269) 429-7100
Speak with a healthcare provider
Call a healthcare provider if you notice a sudden change in your loved one’s behavior or emotions. These changes may be due to dementia. But they could also signal other health problems that can be treated.