Every person living with dementia is unique, and the support that works for one person will be different to another.
Here are some of our manager Jane's ideas for carers. We would love to hear your own tips that we can share with others and our team too. Please drop us a line!
Tip: Time to relax
Sometimes, the stresses and difficulties of the day, mean that carers can forget to spend time relaxing with the person they are caring for who has dementia. Take time to relax together, listen to old music, watch favourite old movies together, look out family albums and reminisce about times that they can remember. Don’t worry if the memories recounted aren’t accurate, just listen and try to be with the person in their reality.
Tip: Create a smell memory box
Many people know about photo memory boxes, but another good thing to create is a smell memory box. The senses can be stimulated to recall memories or in later stages of dementia, emotions. For example, having their favourite perfume or aftershave, scented soaps or candles with their favourite floral smells, perhaps of flowers they particularly bought or grew. If they were a keen cook, try a range of herbs and spices for them to smell. For others, happy emotions may be triggered by the smell of car grease or sawdust. Find out what smells they would have enjoyed in life, capture them and spend time together enjoying and reminiscing.
Our Time for You project uses sensory boxes, we have 'wet walks/woodlands', 'wash day', 'babies!' and more.
Tip: Create meaningful tasks
People with dementia greatly benefit from being able to continue to participate in everyday life. Their diminishing abilities may make them feel useless and worthless. Thinking creatively how they can still be part of daily activities and feel useful makes a big difference to a person’s wellbeing. If that person’s role has always been to be busy in the kitchen, making meals and providing food for the family, help them to continue being safely part of these activities, rather than stopping them all together. When choosing a meaningful activity make sure it is something the person will feel good about doing and provide supervision as needed. If they used to like cooking and were proud of doing housework, they will probably be happy to shell peas, stir pans, wipe the table and peel potatoes for example. But someone who disliked cooking would most likely not! Perhaps sorting out batteries, screws and nails may be more up their street.
Tip: Drop the questions
Stop asking the person with dementia what the names of people are if this is something they struggle with. Trying to get them to remember won’t help, but can cause distress and frustration. Instead provide the name for them, giving that extra bit of information they are struggling to remember, such as “Your hairdresser, Annie, is coming tomorrow”, rather than “Do you remember who’s coming tomorrow? It’s your hairdresser. What’s her name? You must remember her name; she’s been cutting your hair for years.” By stopping quizzing, we can make life better for the person with dementia; no-one wants to be quizzed every day on impossible questions!
Tip: Look after yourself as well
Being a carer can be demanding on your own physical and mental health. Make sure that you take the time to look after yourself so you can continue to care for your loved one.
* Register as a Carer and ask for a Carers Assessment
* Check out the opportunity of free weekly respite sessions - for example, Rolling Respite.
* Consider our other regular support services for respite or practical assistance.
* Come along to one of our Community Projects and benefit from meeting other carers and respite time.
* Keep in touch with your GP about your own health
* Give us a call to chat through how we may be able to help or signpost you to the best place.