Top 10 Tips for Alzheimer's and Dementia Everyday Care
These guidelines can help as you support a loved one with dementia with their everyday care.
- Take care of your own needs first so you can be at your best
People with dementia are very sensitive to the emotional state of others. They’ll pick up on it if you’re feeling rushed, stressed or impatient, and they’re more likely to become upset or resist help.
- Pay attention to where they are at each moment
Your loved one’s needs will vary as they experience fatigue, illness, stress, different emotions, and other conditions. Meet them wherever they are in the moment, and provide whatever type and amount of support they need right now.
- Listen to their feelings, not their words
People with dementia can’t always find the right word, describe their feelings or articulate their needs. Don’t worry about correcting their word choice unless necessary. Pay more attention to their feelings than their exact word choice, and respond accordingly.
- Look for the message in their behavior
Most challenging behavior contains an important message that your loved one can’t put into words. Look for the message in their behavior and observe their non-verbal communication for clues about what they need. When their needs are met their behaviors will resolve.
- Honor their individual needs and preferences
Every person with dementia is a unique individual who is not defined by their disease. It’s important to honor who they have been throughout their life. At the same time, respect their right to continue to grow, evolve, and change their preferences.
- Treat them like a respected friend
Try not to argue with your loved one, and be careful not to talk to them like a child. A respectful, sensitive, and matter-of-fact approach will work best most of the time.
- Engage their participation
Help your loved one do as much as they can for themselves. This can help them feel more in control, reduce anxiety, maintain their abilities and protect their self-esteem.
- Allow plenty of time
People with dementia may move slowly and can easily become overwhelmed if they feel rushed. Allow lots of time and plenty of breaks as needed.
- Limit stimulation and distraction
Dementia can affect how much noise or stimulation a person can handle before they become overwhelmed and unable to cope. Reduce distractions, background noise and excessive chatter so they can function at their best.
- Support healthy routines so they can think and function at their best
People with dementia feel better – and function better – when they’re rested, feeling well and all their needs are met. A healthy routine can keep them at their best. Support good sleep, a healthy diet, daily physical activity, and personally meaningful social, creative, or intellectual engagement on a regular basis.