There will be hobbies and activities that you have both enjoyed, and it can help if these can be continued.Some may need to be adapted to enable the person with dementia to participate. This will help them not to feel they are failing or being tested on their skills
and memory. Activities can help to maintain skills, provide interest, self-expression and fun.As the dementia progresses ideas will need to come from the carer as a person with dementia may have difficulty thinking of things to do. Once ideas are
introduced they can act as a distraction and alleviate some of the behaviour exhibited possibly due to boredom and frustration. A shared activity may also help find new ways of relating to the person being
cared for. Depending on the stage of the dementia, activities should:-
• Build on previous hobbies without the need for too much prompting
• Not be too demanding
• Provide some stimulation
Continuing with activities can provide some focus and routine to daily life as well as contributing towards the well being of both the carer and the cared for. Shared activities should include:-
• Exercise – a walk in the fresh air, simple exercise to music, dancing if this has been a previous pastime or chair exercises
• Music – listening to favourite pieces of music or playing an instrument e.g. piano
Day to Day Life
• Going out – visit a friend, go to a garden centre, shopping, going out for a meal. This should be maintained for as long as possible as outings provide a change of scenery, encourage pride in appearance, as well as contact with other people
• Pets – very often people with dementia respond well to pets, maybe a friend or neighbour could visit with their pet if you do not have one
• Television – watching television can become difficult as dementia progresses. It may be helpful to select favourite programmes rather than have it on continually
• Talking about the past – it is often easier to remember events of years past than the recent past.
Conversation may become easier and more lively if early memories can be triggered e.g. old photographs,mementos, family films, treasured possessions,books, old film stars
• Gardening/chores around the home – this can help the person with dementia feel they are still useful
It is worth remembering that something you both did together for a whole afternoon can now only be enjoyed for a short period of time as dementia does result in people having a short attention span.
Caring for someone with dementia can be very rewarding but at the same time be demanding, leading to a change in lifestyle e.g.
• Friends and relatives may stop visiting if unable to deal with or understand the situation
• The person with dementia cannot remember who you are
• feel guilty that they are not doing enough
• feel guilty accepting outside help
• become isolated and lonely
• feel angry at what is happening
• lose confidence to go out and meet people
• lose the art of conversation as having a discussion with the person they are caring for has become difficult
• feel guilty if they go out, even if for a short timeand worry about what they will find when they return home
• become exhausted through worry and lack of sleep if the person with dementia wanders or has an unpredictable sleep pattern
Services are mostly directed towards the person with dementia but very often the main carer is ‘on call’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is important for the main carer to get support – they are an individual with needs of their own.