We all strive to stay independent as we age as our ability to maintain our independence encourages self-worth, freedom, dignity, and so much more. This also holds true for someone who has dementia. People are of the notion that once a person is diagnosed with dementia they lose their independence. This isn’t always the case. As caregivers, it can be challenging to know when to help and when to step back if you have a loved one suffering from memory loss. But by striving to keep those with dementia as independent as possible, you can help the person live a better quality of life. The best way to promote independence is by centering your focus on what they can still do and providing just adequate support for them to be successful, which will reinforce those skills- which could be something as simple as brushing their teeth or making their bed.
Using memory prompting strategies early on through muscle memory and cognitive triggers, you can stimulate the brain and help the person stay more independent. It goes without saying that the person with dementia will require more guidance and support as their condition declines, but it’s advisable that you allow him more autonomy to keep doing the things they can to help them stay independent.
Senior Sanctuary of Anthem in Phoenix offers specialized memory care. Our facility is designed to create a safe, controlled environment so seniors with memory challenges can live independently.
Keeping your aging parents safe while preserving their independence isn’t always easy. The key to helping them stay independent is by understanding your loved one’s disease and supporting them through their challenges.
Here are a few ways to help someone stay independent with dementia:
Use Routines– Having a routine- doing activities in the same sequence- is one of the best memory prompts as that helps them remember what they need to do, meaning your loved one will know what to expect which can give them a sense of security. Stick to a proper schedule, including consistent times for waking up, having meals, enjoying social activities, and going to bed, which will help your loved one feel secure and less anxious.
Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle– Encourage your loved one to eat a healthy diet and stay active, which is essential for independence. It is as important for them to take medications on time, manage stress, and go for regular health checkups.
Prioritize Their Natural Abilities and Specific Skills– One simple way you can help your loved one remain independent is by adapting everyday tasks to accommodate their natural abilities and specific skills. For example, cook finger foods for your loved one if they find it tough to use utensils.
Provide Emotional Support– Offering emotional support is as important as focusing on keeping your loved ones safe from any harm. Do not make assumptions about their abilities as everyone experiences memory loss differently. Instead of being sympathetic, listen to them and be empathetic to their struggles. Become their confidante with whom they can share their feelings. Keep the lines of communication open.
Only provide help when it is needed. Resist the urge to complete tasks for someone with dementia, it’s best to let them ask for your help. Your loved one may not need assisted living care for years, or they may require help sooner. Assess their abilities, accordingly take decision.