Dementia is a progressive disease where the patient slowly loses mental capabilities and cognitive functions over a period of time. Currently, About 4 to 5 million people in the United States suffer from some form of dementia.
Dementia affects up to 50 percent of people by the time they reach 85. If you have a friend or family member inflicted with the disease, then you know how tough it is to watch them decline. One of the hardest aspects is helping your loved one maintain their independence during the early stages of the disease. Here are some tips on how to lovingly help someone maintain their autonomy as long as possible.
Divide Tasks into Steps
During retirement living, help your loved one carry out daily tasks by breaking them into a series of smaller steps. For example, getting dressed is a simple task that people without dementia don't even have to think about.
However, for people with dementia, it's helpful to write an order. You might write out something like "first put on your underwear, followed by a pair of pants and a shirt followed by your shoes." Making a meal can be divided in the same way. For example, you might write "first slice two pieces of bread, place deli meat on one slice of bread, add slices of lettuce and tomato and finish with the second piece of bread."
Assisted living services will often guide you on how to cope with your loved ones with dementia. For example, patients suffering from dementia are usually on medication. It can be difficult for them to remember to take their medication correctly. Therefore, the assisted living services may suggest that you use pill boxes. The medications are divided by the day or even time of day so the patient can determine if he has already taken his medication. Help the patient by filling the pill boxes correctly at the start of each week.
Paying the Bills
Whether your loved one has entered a facility that offers assisted living in Connecticut, or is still living at home, one of the hardest tasks is correctly paying the bills on time. Between the phone, cable, utilities, mortgage and tax payments, it can be pretty confusing. Write out a list for your loved one at the start of each month when bills are due. Keep a copy for yourself and gently remind the loved one a few days before each bill is due that it needs to be paid. This will give him the satisfaction of still being in charge of his finances while still ensuring they are paid on time.
- During retirement living, break daily tasks into smaller steps for people who are suffering from dementia.
- Use pill boxes to ensure that medication is taken correctly.
- Write out bill pay reminders for the patient and follow-up to make sure he correctly pays them on time.
If you're interested in learning more about Lifestyle Transitions Specialized Assisted Living and Memory Support community in Shelton, CT, visit www.umh.org/wesley-village/lifestyle-transitions or contact us here.