A diagnosis of dementia in someone you know and care about can be challenging for carers, families and friends too. This section contains some practical advice to help you support your family member or friend to live well with dementia. Remember it is also important to look after yourself, particularly if you are a full-time carer. You may need support too, perhaps in the form of informed advice, or training, or someone to talk to and share your experience with. It is also really important to ensure you take time for yourself and your needs.
There are a number of places you can access information and advice around caring for someone with dementia.
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland website has a page dedicated to carers and family members.
You may also like to visit
This video was provided by The Alzheimer Society of Irelandand Sabina Brennan, Trinity Brain Health Hello Brain and Trinity College Dublin
When someone has dementia you may need to make adaptations and changes to help them in their daily life.
Changes to the home
For a person with dementia, the home can pose difficulties and sometimes risks. Some simple adaptations can make it safer for everyone. Bear in mind that dementia is progressive and it’s important to reassess your home and physical surroundings regularly.
Some of the suggestions are as simple as reducing clutter, keeping a calendar up to date and visible or leaving out clothes in the correct order for dressing. You could consider making adaptations to your home like adding stair or bathroom rails, changing the lighting or removing trip hazards both inside and outside. It can be helpful to put clearly written labels or instructions on doors, presses or household objects. An occupational therapist can advise on many of these adaptations. Find out more here.
Technology can give people with dementia help and support to remain independent, safe and socially engaged. Carers may find it offers them support and reassurance as well. Assistive technology may also help some people to maintain their independence. Assistive technology refers to products or gadgets that people use to make their lives easier, such as a TV remote control, glasses or an alarm clock. This term can be used to describe any piece of technology that enables someone to complete their daily tasks, maintain their independence, help manage risks at home and reduce stress for carers. Information on assistive technology is available through occupational therapists.
Changes in behaviour
Behaviour patterns may change too and these changes can be challenging to deal with. They may be caused by frustration, a sense of being out of control, or a feeling of not being listened to or understood. Dementia can make the world a confusing and frightening place as the person struggles to understand what is going on around them. Though it may confuse the carer, the behaviour often may have meaning to the person with dementia. It may be an attempt to enhance and maintain a sense of wellbeing and ease distress. Any response should involve trying to see things from their perspective. Find out more here.
Changes in ability
As dementia progresses the ability of the person to take on tasks will change. They may need help with money matters like paying bills and managing bank accounts. They may need memory aids and help to manage their medication or their meals. It helps to focus on their abilities and the tasks they still enjoy. Be encouraging and do things with the person rather than for them, so you can support their independence.