Dementia is becoming more common in the elderly population. This article explores how people with dementia can still have a great quality of life and find a sense of purpose.
On a global scale, the number of cases of dementia will increase from 50M diagnosed in 2018 to 152M in 2050. This is a 204% increase and it is a sign that dementia is quickly becoming a fact of life once you reach a certain age. Many people fear that their loved ones will not be able to enjoy their life once they are diagnosed with this condition and lose all-purpose. However, at Home Caring we have a wealth of experience working and caring for those who have various forms of dementia. We know that they can still have a fantastic quality of life if the right steps are taken.
We recognize that a person with dementia still needs and desires a good quality of life. While abilities and levels of independence can vary dramatically depending on the individual, the right strategies will ensure that every patient can get the right level of care and support.
With the right structures in place, those with dementia can see fantastic levels of improvement in their lives. They are happier, more content, and more fulfilled daily. The right lifestyle can even help improve the condition of a patient who has been diagnosed with dementia.
With the right level of care, patients can and often do return home and regain some of their independence. A key part of this is ensuring that each patient does get the personalized support that they require and that their individual needs or requirements are catered to.
At home caring, we focus on attentive care that is designed to match the individual needs of every patient and ensure that they do engage with day-to-day life, instead of becoming passive and just letting time slip by.
A big part of this is finding the right activities for people who are suffering from dementia.
Finding The Right Activities
When looking for the right activities for those with dementia, we focus on looking at things that the individual will love and enjoy. This could be based on past activities that they used to spend time on before they received their diagnosis. Sometimes a diagnosis of dementia can cause an individual to lose their hobbies. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, with the right support patients can regain what was once lost.
As well as focusing on lost activities, we also look to engage patients with activities that will provide boosts to their self-esteem and ensure that they feel empowered as an individual. A problem many people with dementia face is that they do feel helpless. The right activity can correct this issue and ensure that they feel like themselves once more.
We also work to ensure that we stimulate the mind of the individual and encourage them to learn new skills or gain fresh knowledge. Research shows that keeping the brain active can slow down the development of dementia and ensure that it doesn’t cause such an impact on an individual.
Of course, it’s not just about ensuring that activity provides mental health benefits. It also needs to be enjoyable and give a patient pleasure with plenty of social contact. Interacting with others and encouraging communication is another way that it can be possible to reduce the impact of dementia.
We also work to ensure that activity does fit an individual’s functioning and this includes choosing the right time. It’s vital that an activity does not cause a patient additional levels of stress. We carefully consider when a person is at their best through the day. This could be the morning, the afternoon, or even the evening. Again, it’s about guaranteeing that the plan is suited around the individual rather than fitting an individual into a predetermined plan.
The right activities will also provide sensory benefits too. Sensory options can vary from a massage to the brushing of hair or even using different smells. For instance, a patient could benefit from a trip to somewhere that engages their senses in a variety of ways like a flower show or a farm.
When choosing activities for patients with dementia, it’s important to make sure that you do keep things consistent. We often encourage individuals to write out a care plan that can be followed with their loved ones if they are suffering from dementia. Activities are chosen need to always be based around the individual’s needs rather than the resources that are available.
There is a certain element of trial and error here. It can take some time to find which activities will calm a patient and which ones can cause more distress. However, we are always determined to find the right activity for every individual and won’t give up until the best strategy is in place that suits their situation.
Modifying The Environment
It’s important to understand that an individual’s declarative memory is typically damaged once they develop dementia. This occurs in the early stages. Declarative memory is based on how someone remembers facts and events or putting things in the right order.
By modifying the environment, both physical and emotional, it is possible to ensure that a person living with dementia can engage in activities in meaningful ways.
In terms of the physical environment, it’s important to ensure that there is good lighting. This is going to make it easier for a patient to see and distinguish between different things around them.
Another way to improve the physical environment is to reduce noise that is unnecessary. For instance, you could think about switching off the TV in a room when a task is being worked on or completed. Don’t forget, it’s quite common for patients with dementia to also suffer from hearing issues that can make connecting with an activity even more difficult.
For dementia patients, we also ensure that environments are easy to understand in a variety of ways. For instance, we use signage. This helps ensure that a patient knows what day it is and what type of activities to expect for that specific day. This helps to reduce issues with both anxiety and confusion which can be a common problem with patients who do have dementia.
It is also possible to modify the emotional environment for a patient who is suffering from dementia. Doing so will ensure that an environment is more relaxing and comfortable for them in a variety of ways.
One way to do this is to make sure that you fill an environment with things that are familiar to them. For patients who are moving into a care facility, we encourage loved ones to decorate their room with things from their old home. Photos on the walls can also help and ensure that they find it easier to remember the key people in their life.
Of course, part of providing the right emotional environment for patients with dementia will always involve choosing the right care support. The best care professionals will take the time to ensure that your loved one does feel completely comfortable and is in the perfect environment that is designed for their emotional needs.
Setting up the right environment will require a carer to understand the individual health issues of a patient and any other deficits that could be impacting them. It’s also important to understand that different forms of dementia impact patients in a variety of ways. The right care professionals will understand this and focus their care plan in the right areas to provide the greatest benefits.
Making Activities Meaningful
Once you have established the right environment for a patient with dementia, you need to ensure that the activity that you choose is meaningful for the individual patient. One of the ways that we do this is by exploring an individual’s life story and ensuring that an activity is going to connect with who they are and what they want. Again, it’s important to tap into their specific needs and desires.
As well as this, you must make sure that they are filling in a meaningful role when completing an activity. For instance, you might decide to cook with a patient who has dementia. This could be great if they love cooking as long as they are actively involved. It’s vital that they don’t sit and watch someone else complete the activity or provide side support because this won’t be a meaningful experience. At the end of the activity, an individual with dementia should feel as though they have accomplished something and done something worthwhile with their time. This could mean playing a game that they loved or making something using crafts, or baking a cake.
We hope this helps you see that people who are living with dementia can still have fulfilling lives. It’s just about setting up the right activities that they are going to love and will gain great benefits from in both the long and short term. At Home Caring, we are always ready to help our patients find the meaning in life that they might have lost after their diagnosis.