5 ways to care for yourself when looking after someone who suffers from dementia

If you look after someone who suffers from dementia and feel stressed or anxious, you’re not alone. One recent survey revealed that nine carers in ten feel this way several times a week. What’s more, four-fifths of carers said they struggle to talk about their worries.

It’s not uncommon to feel under immense pressure when looking after a partner, parent or relative with dementia. And, many people feel guilty when they take time out for themselves. However, if you don’t look after yourself, the risk is that you may just burn out – meaning you’ll be less able to provide care long term.

Let’s look at some ways you can manage this difficult situation.

1.      Ask for help

If you are caring full time for someone who suffers from dementia and are feeling highly stressed for long periods, it is important to acknowledge that stress can be a trigger for more serious health conditions. Talk to your physician immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of severe, long-term stress. They will be able to provide advice on how to cope in relation to your personal situation.

2.      Eat well and exercise

Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising on a regular basis can play a big role in helping you when caring for someone who is suffering from dementia. Healthy food will give you all the nutrition you need and even basic exercise – such as a 30-minute walk around the block a couple of times a week – can help clear your mind and boost your overall mood.

3.      Time for yourself each day

When you’re caring for someone with dementia, you may feel the need to be with them at every moment to ensure they don’t feel lonely or accidentally injure themselves. While this is a positive sentiment, it is also valuable for you to take some time alone to refresh – even if it’s just ten minutes a couple of times per day to have a hot drink and listen to the radio. The time spent unwinding can do wonders for your mood and motivation.

4.      Use tech to connect

Thanks to new kinds of technology there’s numerous ways you can keep caring for someone suffering from dementia without having to constantly be in their company. Whether it’s systems that help you control the heating or air conditioning in their home or day clocks which let you remind them of appointments, technology can help you have time for yourself while still caring from a distance.

5.      Mentally detach yourself

It’s not uncommon for people suffering from dementia to become aggressive or rude. At these times it’s vital to detach yourself mentally from the situation – know that it is the illness talking, not the person you know and love. By not taking insults personally, you protect yourself.

How do you give yourself a break when caring for someone with dementia? Leave a reply in the box below.

5 pioneering dementia initiatives

As awareness of dementia becomes more widespread, it’s inspiring to see how individuals, communities and even national organizations are finding new ways to deal with the illness.  Of course we are biased to our own app but we’ve selected five examples of pioneering dementia initiatives which we think show-case a range of different responses to dementia. Think we’ve missed a crucial example out? Let us know in the comments.

Dementia initiatives can be launched by individuals, communities and national or even international organizations. Here are five examples we find inspiring:

  1. Individualized home service

For more than 30 years, Melabev has been a leader in care for seniors in Israel. While the organization runs homes and clubs in major cities like Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, it really stands out for its innovative home care service At Home with Melabev. Clients across the country receive home visits by a team of qualified therapists who are trained and certified in arts, physical fitness, cognitive stimulation and more.

  1. Dementia-trained hair stylists

The hair salon is a natural place to reminisce – and maintaining an individual’s appearance is an important way of boosting their self-confidence. However, many hair stylists struggle to understand the needs of seniors suffering with dementia. And that’s why one hair-dressing school in the UK is now specifically training professional hair stylists to provide a personal service to people suffering from the condition. Read more here.

  1. A dementia-friendly city

The picturesque Belgian city of Bruges launched a city-wide project in 2010 called Together for a dementia-friendly Bruges! – a global first. The initiative received support from the local government and launched a range of activities, including training for storekeepers and their personnel on how to recognize customers who may have dementia and provide an appropriate service. Other cities across the globe have followed Bruges’ example.

  1. Dementia education for children

Many children struggle to comprehend dementia, especially as they see a loving grandparent seemingly change. And so in Australia, the Kids 4 Dementia project has been designed to educate children at public schools about what dementia is, what it feels like to have dementia and provides them with the tools to understand the illness.

  1. Memory cafes

Memory cafes are an innovative way of supporting people who are experiencing early stage dementia. In Appleton, WI, Memory Cafes take place in church halls and other public spaces and provide a space for lively discussions, creative activities and an opportunity to socialize – all while avoiding isolation.

8 great apps for people suffering with dementia

If you care for someone who is living with dementia, there’s an ever-growing list of apps which are designed to help your loved ones deal with their condition. Most modern apps are intuitive, user-friendly, and when used on a tablet are much easier to navigate than a traditional desktop computer with a mouse and separate keyboard.

Let’s explore 8 great apps for people suffering with dementia:

1.    MindMate

Used by over half a million people worldwide, and targeted squarely at the Baby Boomer generation, MindMate provides a wide range of physical and mental activities which aim to reduce the speed of cognitive decline.

2.    It’s Done!

A major worry for people who are living with the early stages of dementia is that they forget whether they have done certain tasks in their daily routine – from locking the front door to taking their meds to turning off the stove. They then have to rush home to double check. It’s Done! aims to help by letting them tick off activities on their daily task list as they do them, so they can be sure that the task was completed.

3.    Spaced Retrieval

Spaced Retrieval utilizes a scientifically proven method of recalling answers to a question over a period of time. This embeds the answer and helps dementia-sufferers remember information for longer.

4.    Amuse IT

It can be a struggle to have meaningful conversations with a dementia patient. Amuse IT aims to help here by providing over 1,000 games which stimulate conversation and sharing of experiences.

5.    YouTube

Packed with endless videos and clips, YouTube is an amazing resource to help dementia patients recall television and music from their past.

6.    RecallCue

Designed to support seniors and their family members, RecallCue provides an easy to use day clock which reminds the person you care for about appointments and other calendar events so they feel more in control of what is going on round them. The app also facilitates interaction between the senior and their children and grandchildren by allowing them to share images and connect throughout the day. (OK we are biased… 🙂

7.    Lumosity

Drawing on decades of scientific research and tests, Lumosity helps delay the onset of dementia by providing powerful cognitive tests and activities to keep the brain stimulated.

8.    House of Memories

This unique app, designed by a museum, draws on images and objects from the past held in the museum’s collection. The House of Memories app allows users to view images from across the decades, sparking memories and helping them talk about these with children and grandchildren.

Learn how RecallCue helps you and the person you care for deal with dementia-related memory loss today.