According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people are living with dementia around the world. The disease is one of the leading causes of disability in the older generations – and it can be devastating both for sufferers and for the people who love them.
If one of your friends or family members has been diagnosed with dementia, you may well be feeling lost and confused. But the good news is that there are ways you can help support them through this difficult time.
Here’s how you can help your loved one adjust to life with their diagnosis. Whether you live five minutes down the street or five hours away in another place, here’s are some tips to give you an idea of what you can do.
Arrange in-person care
Depending on how serious the diagnosis is, and its symptoms, you may want to help your loved one arrange some local care. Do some research to find out which services are running in their home state. From daily house calls in California to Michigan Adult Foster Care, the type of care you choose will depend on the level of assistance your loved one feels they need, as well as the type of local facilities available.
If you live nearby, you can also support your loved one by checking in with them regularly. This could be for a cup of tea and a chat, or to help with practical chores around the house.
Gardening, laundry, cooking, washing up, taking out the trash — some people suffering from dementia can find these tasks harder to cope with as time goes on. Being on-hand to help out is a great way to support them in their own home. You will give them a feeling of independence and make them feel valued.
Find fun activities to boost their well-being
A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean the fun has to end. According to a quality standard set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK, people with dementia should be given the chance to take part in stimulating activities to promote their well-being.
From baking and art classes to exercise and singing, there are plenty of fun hobbies you can enjoy together while helping to combat the emotional effects of dementia.
Depending on how far progressed their dementia is, you can also check whether there are any dementia-friendly activities offered in their community. These can include group cinema trips, coffee mornings, and choirs specifically for those with dementia and their friends.
Help get your loved one online
If you don’t live nearby your loved one, it’s natural to wish you could spend more time with them, particularly as they navigate the early stages of their diagnosis. An easy way to make this a reality is to help them get a smartphone, tablet, or laptop which they can use to get online (if they’re not already connected).
The use of technology is increasingly encouraged by people who are suffering from dementia. Not only does it enable them to keep in touch with friends and family via Skype or Zoom, but it can also provide a new form of entertainment. Dedicated dementia apps, online puzzles, and social media can be hugely beneficial for helping people keep their minds active. You can feel secure knowing that your loved one is just a text away.
Want to support a loved one through dementia? These tips will help you boost their emotional wellbeing, simply by being there when they need you most.
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Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.