Plans for the future might change, but it does not mean you or your loved one need to stop doing the things that are most enjoyable. They might just be done a little differently.
Some changes that can occur with dementia can include:
- Memory loss
- Problems with thinking and planning
- Difficulties communicating
- Confusion about time or place
- Sight and visual difficulties
- Apathy and withdrawal
Ways to cope with changes:
- Let people around you know how they can help.
- Get help with tasks around the house, like cooking, cleaning, shopping or showering.
- Access formal services to assist with your daily needs.
- Continue to exercise, within your ability. This will improve the way you think and feel.
- Exercise your mind. Keep learning, thinking, and doing a variety of activities.
- Stay social.
- Ask family and friends to reassure you if you become confused.
- When you or your family and friends notice these changes, it is time to adapt the daily routine and begin discussions together. The changes experienced might be distressing or discouraging. But with support, someone living with dementia can keep doing the things they want or need to do.
Founded by carers 35 years ago, Dementia Australia is the national peak body and voice for people living with dementia, their families and carers. Dementia Australia supports people living with dementia every day and has created resources and support programs to help people make these changes in their own way. You can call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 to speak to someone about a diagnosis or start to explore resources online in your own time.
The Dementia Guide is a comprehensive guide, including checklists and practical tips to support people living with dementia, their family and carers.
“This guide is a great starting point for anyone living with or caring for someone with dementia. It is especially useful for the newly diagnosed to help to gain an understanding of how to continue to lead a productive life,” said Bobby Redman, member of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee and person living with dementia.
Helpful communication tips and ways of navigating relations also makes the guide a good starting point for those supporting a loved one through a diagnosis of dementia. If English is a second language, there are also suggestions on how dementia may affect communication and how caregivers can navigate these changes and best provide support.
“This guide is a great starting point for anyone living with or caring for someone with dementia. It is especially useful for the newly diagnosed to help to gain an understanding of how to continue to lead a productive life.”Bobby Redman / Dementia Australia Advisory Committee and person living with dementia
“The Dementia Guide would also promote positive discussions for the person with dementia, family and carers,” said Ann Pietsch, member of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee and person living with dementia.
With the right support, people living with dementia may be able to maintain independence and live well for many years. At each stage, there will be ways to make life better. A well-designed home can help maintain independence and the right practical modifications can aid abilities around the house.
Some changes to your home can help you feel more safe and secure include:
- Improve lighting by:
- replacing current globes with brighter ones
- placing chairs and couches by sunlit windows
- installing sensor lighting to reduce the risk of falls at night-time.
- Display personal items and photos. This helps prompt reminiscence and can reduce stress and anxiety.
- Place regularly used items in your line of sight.
- Group common items together so they are easier to find.
- Use labels to help locate and identify items.
- Make sure hot and cold indicators are marked on taps.
- Replace appliances (when needed) with familiar and recognisable models.
- Use distinctive coloured doors and contrasting door frames to help with orientation.
It’s estimated that 70% of people who are diagnosed with dementia will be living in the community so it’s important to integrate these simple changes to support that independence safely.
People living with dementia can also sometimes feel lonely and isolated from their community. It is important to establish a routine that keeps you connected with family and friends or meet other people in the early stages of dementia. A call to the National Dementia Helpline can connect you or your loved one with a support group in your area.
The National Dementia Helpline is a free telephone service that provides information and advice to people living with dementia, their friends, families and carers. Dementia Australia also offers online learning and free post-diagnostic support for people of all ages diagnosed with dementia or mild cognitive impairment.
If you are impacted by dementia in any way, Dementia Australia has services, education and information that can help you plan for you or your loved one’s future. It is possible to live well with dementia and a little bit of support goes a long way.
If you would like to speak to one of our trained advisors, the National Dementia Helpline operates 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.