Promoting independence in older individuals suffering from dementia is essential to instilling a sense of self-worth in them. Alzheimer’s patients who are encouraged to overly rely on their caregivers are less likely to participate in daily self-care activities—which in turn, undermines their independence.
Caregivers may be inclined to provide excessive help when they fail to see the value of promoting independence in their care recipients. They should be aware, however, that especially during the early phases of dementia, the elderly are capable of handling certain day-to-day activities on their own.
Seniors with dementia possess varying levels of competence, making it important that caregivers observe their elderly memory care recipients to correctly determine where help is needed. By encouraging self-care when appropriate, dependency is less likely to become disheartening for the dementia patient.
Caregivers provide invaluable help when they allow senior care recipients to attempt to handle small tasks on their own. Additionally, breaking down major tasks into smaller, manageable ones provides a sense of independence for the senior. Encourage further self-reliance via the following means:
1. Establish Routines
Seniors suffering from dementia thrive in routine. Regular schedules for meals, bathing and sleeping give the elderly feelings of security and reduce anxiety. Routines are also known to be excellent memory prompts. When a senior knows what to expect and when, the routines serves as reliable memory aids.
2. Write Out Schedules
Writing down appointments, meal times and activities helps seniors with dementia know what to expect. Notes may be made onto large wall calendars or bulletin boards so that seniors will not miss them. Alternately, the senior may elect to keep a diary or small notepad to help jog their memory.
If the senior with dementia has access to technology, text alerts and notes on the senior’s phone will help them remember to accomplish the necessary tasks. A text alert may sound to notify the senior to take a certain medication or remind them to attend a social function.
3. Promote Exercise
Daily bouts of physical activity help the senior with dementia build muscle strength and increase flexibility. As part of the established routine, for instance, a caregiver may arrive at nine o’clock each morning to accompany the senior on a leisurely stroll around the park.
Seniors who engage in regular physical exercise develop the bodily strength to continue participating in the activities of daily living for an extended duration. Exercises may be simple, such as light stretching, senior yoga or short walks around the home or neighborhood.
4. Invite Kitchen Help
An elderly individual may no longer have the capability to prepare a full meal. Rather than overtake the kitchen, invite the senior to help with the food preparation. The senior may wash vegetables, fold dinner napkins, set the table or remove cooled cookies from a baking tray.
5. Request Household Help
Similar to asking the senior with dementia to help in the kitchen, caregivers may encourage independence by assigning small household chores. The elderly individual may be given the responsibility of watering houseplants, for instance; or, post-meal cleanup may be a fitting duty.
6. Opt for Easy-to-Wear Clothing
Dementia causes the senior to lose the ability to independently handle minor tasks, like dressing. Promote independence by changing gear. When the senior struggles to tie shoelaces, purchase a pair of Velcro shoes. Slacks with elastic waistbands are easier for seniors to slip on, so toss out the belt buckles.
7. Utilize Labels and Signs
Seniors with dementia may have trouble recalling tasks. Help these individuals by making use of labels. Adhere labels to the medicine cabinet so seniors know where to put medication bottles and which pills to take. Place signs on the door to remind them to lock the front door each evening.
8. Engage in Social Activities
Being in the company of others is crucial for seniors living with dementia, as the disease can lead to isolative tendencies. Staying socially engaged gives these individuals a sense of meaning and purpose. Choose social activities that match the seniors’ ability levels and preferences.
Boosting a senior’s feelings of inclusion may be accomplished through various appropriate activities, such as singalongs, dancing, arts and crafts and music. Rather than aim for the senior to acquire new skills, the focus should be on maintaining the senior’s existing skills set.
9. Consider Changing Abilities
Capabilities may fluctuate from day to day in seniors living with dementia. Elderly individuals are more able to handle certain tasks with more skill on some days than on other days. When the senior has difficulty with a particular task, allow the individual to try again another day.
When caregivers respect seniors’ changing ability levels, the older individuals are less likely to be overcome with feelings of frustration. Plus, when attentive caregivers are flexible and modify their initial approach, they significantly help senior care recipients maximize their independence.
10. Modify the Home
Small additions to the home environment help the senior with dementia stay on track. When placed in every room, large clocks with date displays can trigger memories of scheduled events and activities. Seniors’ orientation also increases when they are constantly reminded of the day, date and time.
The cognitive impairments that accompany dementia conditions can be effectively managed with minor lifestyle adjustments as well as a compassionate human touch. Memory care providers from Assisting Hands Home Care are invaluable companions and caregivers to seniors living with dementia.
Our skilled caregivers will ensure that your elderly loved one receives the right level of help to lead an independent lifestyle. We’ll encourage exercise by accompanying them on walks or transporting them to senior yoga classes, promote mental stimulation through games and pleasant conversation and assist with all the activities of daily living, including bathing, grooming and meal preparation.
Families in Lombard, Villa Park, Addison, Elmhurst and surrounding areas in DuPage County, Illinois, continually trust Assisting Hands Home Care to provide dedicated elder care services. We are committed to helping older individuals live comfortably, safely and independently in the familiar setting of home. Call Assisting Hands at 630) 313-6160 to schedule your free in-home consultation.