Dementia can be a scary experience for not only those who have the disease, but also for loved ones and care givers. However, dementia doesn’t automatically mean giving up your quality of life. If you’re caring for a loved with who is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, there are many steps you can take to make your life, and theirs, a lot easier. Here are five tips to help you get started:

1. Create a Set Schedule Knowing exactly what needs to be done each day, and when, helps reduce the likelihood of mistakes and the stress they can cause. Having a predictable, organized schedule helps keep everyone on task and makes it easier to accomplish the days’ goals. And that accomplishment helps to provide a sense of normalcy and usefulness to life. For example, schedule baths, meals and walks around the same time each day.

2. Stay Active During the Day It’s important for people with dementia to stay active during throughout the day so that they can get adequate sleep at night. Resting too much during the day not only leads to boredom which feeds the dementia, but it can cause restlessness at night and a lack of sleep often leads to an increase in dementia symptoms.

3. Minimize Stress Anxiety, worry, and other stress factors can take a toll on anyone, but especially on a person with dementia. That invariably reduces everyone’s quality of life. Be particularly aware of this and try to note what types of things are causing stress for your oved one. Do they react negatively to being rushed? Is there a kind of television show that tends to agitate them? Are the stressed by perceiving that they have too much to do each day? (Remember, your definition of moderate activity may be very different from theirs.) Once you know the particular stress factors to be avoided, you can usually structure the person’s day to minimize or eliminate most of them.

4. Make Note of Triggers If you notice that certain things trigger memory loss, confusion, anger or other dementia symptoms, write these things down. Keeping a diary can help you identify potential triggers before it’s too late and enable you to exert greater control over stressful moments.

5. Stay in a Safe Environment Dementia can increase the chances of injuring oneself. However, this is very preventable. Make a careful inspection of the household for things that can be tripped over, such as cords and scatter rugs and rearrange them to minimize the chance of an accident. It also helps to install helper items such as handrails. Lower the thermostat on hot water to prevent accidental burning and make sure to take fire safety precautions. Install locks on any potentially dangerous cabinets such as those where alcohol, medicine and cleaning supplies are stored.

Sometimes, a person suffering with Alzheimer’s disease reaches a stage where round the clock professional care is demanded. At Holliswood Center, we helped to pioneer the Awakened at Centerstm program, a special program for the care of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias that has enjoyed tremendous success. If you’re caring for a dementia patient at home and need help understanding the best ways to make their life easier and more enjoyable, feel free to visit Holliswood Center and talk to some of Awakened staff members. They’ll be happy to help.

Holliswood Center is part of the Centers Healthcare network; New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island’s premier group of skilled nursing, rehabilitation and senior care services. To speak to a healthcare specialist and find out more about Holliswood Center, contact us by phone 24/7 at 718.740.3500, or visit us at 195-44 Woodhull Ave., Jamaica NY, 11423.

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