Whether you have a diagnosis, or you’re a carer, relative or friend of someone with dementia, I aim to try and share some of my knowledge in how to cope and adapt some of the everyday conversations or activities you do. Everyone has different symptoms and behaviours and I hope some of the following may help. These can be put into action and trialled during the current lockdown and after.
I have gained and adopted the coping strategies and distraction techniques whilst working in several health care settings caring for people at different stages and with varying dementia diagnosis`. I have also taken an active role to support loved ones, as well has having personal experience in caring for my 3 grandparents who had Alzheimer’s.
Keeping a Routine
I can hear many of you saying – how do you keep a routine in lockdown? Why is routine so important? So let me share with you my knowledge of why routine can help you with everyday activities. Routines are a vital part of any person`s life. It offers us stability, continuity, reassurance, confidence, independence and structure.
A person with a diagnosis of dementia can benefit from a routine, it can:
- reduce their anxieties
- enable them to adapt to a new way of independence alongside their diagnosis
- alleviate behaviours we may find challenging
- gives them confidence
- can help them adapt to expectations of themselves – knowing limits
- expectations of the day’s plans
- helps identify times of day – helps to aid sleeping patterns
It is helpful to keep their routine as close to what they have been used to for much of their life, however, this may mean making some adaptions and giving various prompts to them. Prompts advice will be included in the next installment of my blog. When it comes to a person with dementia carrying out a task from the routine, make sure they are encouraged but do not pressure them. They may be able to complete only a couple of steps in that task but that will still be meaningful. If they complete the final step of the task this can give them a great sense of achievement (which makes us all feel good). Don`t get annoyed if they complete the task differently or wrong, remember they are giving it a go.
Routine is also important for a carer too, it can:
- ease their stress as they will know the day to day plans
- improve their own time management
- enable them to look at ways their loved one will be able to help around the house
- will ease some of the stress they may experience
- offer them reassurance in dealing with their caring role
- allow you both to spend some time doing something together – working as a team
Some of you may already have routines but because of the current climate have had to change them quite a bit. I understand that this is a challenge but remember that not all routines have to be completely changed. There will be ways that you could try and adapt current routines to make them lockdown friendly. For example: if you used to attend a support group or social group, why not now look at other options of how to become socially active – you could try some of the staying connected techniques or you could implement a similar activity such as going for a walk or talking to neighbours over the fence/hedge or through the gate. This way it will allow the social distance guidelines to be put into action.
Routines can be worthwhile for both of you!