20 Tips for Living with Early Stage Dementia

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If you have been diagnosed with dementia, here are some suggestions that can make a positive difference in living with dementia.

1. Write things down

Make lists of what you need to do and where things are. Keep a diary and get into the habit of checking it regularly. The diary can be for future appointments and also serve as a journal for remembering what you have done.

2. Use a wall calendar

Keep it in a place such as on your fridge where you will see it every day. The calendar can be used as large diary (as above) or simply as a reminder of the date.

3. Have a regular, set place for important things

Decide where you want to keep money, keys or glasses and always keep them in that same place. This will reduce the chances of you not being able to find important things when you need them.

4.  Organise your wardrobe

Put your clothes away in a wardrobe as complete outfits. For example, put the shirt with the trousers you want to wear. This will help you save time getting ready in the mornings.

5. Use picture prompts around the home

For example, you could use a picture of plates and cutlery on the cupboard or drawer where you keep these. You could put a picture of keys and wallet or purse on the inside of the front door to remind you to take these items with you as you leave the house.

6. Develop a routine for yourself

You may find everyday tasks easier to remember and do if you have a regular way of doing things at a particular time of the day.

7. Set up direct debits and standing orders

Save yourself time and effort of remembering to pay bills by asking your bank to set up direct debits or standing orders for all your regular bills such as gas, electricity, telephone.

8. Slow down

Give yourself extra time to complete daily tasks to avoid stress.

9. Timers

Use timers to check on cooking or change a load of washing.

10. Medication

If you are taking medicine, ask your pharmacist or GP about help with remembering to take it on time.

11. Hydration

Some specialists recommend drinking more water for better hydration. Good hydration can prevent infection, aid sleep and prevent falls.

12. Take care of your physical health

Eat nutritious food, exercise regularly and take medication as prescribed. Have regular eye, hearing and health checks.

13. Speak to a professional

Make sure that you have someone to talk to about your feelings and about your illness. There are support groups and professionals available to help you. Please speak to your GP and local professional support organisations in the first instance.

14. Ask for help and accept it

Ask for help from personal and professional contacts wherever you can and accept the help. The assistance provided will help make the change that dementia brings more manageable.

15. Learn how to relax and manage stress

Stress is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease so it’s helpful to know relaxation and stress reducing techniques.

16. Socialise

Maintain your social life as best as you can, keeping in touch with friends and family. If they find it hard to know what to say or do, explain that you still need to see them and stay in touch. Tell people you have a memory problem and ask people to repeat or explain things. Speak to other people living with dementia by attending a local dementia day or support centre or support group.

17. Have more fun

Laughing, playing and enjoying yourself are great ways to reduce stress and worry.  Having fun can inspire lifestyle changes that prevent strokes and compensate for memory problems.

18. Focus on what you can do

Whilst dementia is a progressive illness and there will be things that you will not be able to do as the illness advances, focus on the things you can still do and enjoy at every stage of the illness.

19. Be kind to yourself

If you get frustrated when things aren’t going well, be kind to yourself and realise that the illness is causing problems. You are more than your illness.

20. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep deprivation and stress are thought to affect the proper functioning of the brain cells. Therefore, try to get enough rest and avoid stressful activities.

If you are concerned about your health or that of someone of you care for please consult a qualified health and social care professional, such as your GP, in the first instance.