People with dementia experience a range of symptoms related to changes in thinking, remembering, reasoning, and behavior. Living with dementia presents unique challenges, but there are steps you can take to help now and in the future.
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias get worse over time. Even simple everyday activities can become difficult to complete. To help cope with changes in memory and thinking, consider strategies that can make daily tasks easier. Try to adopt them early on so you will have more time to adjust. You can:
- Write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
- Set up automated bill payments and consider asking someone you trust to help manage your finances.
- Have your groceries delivered.
- Manage your medications with a weekly pillbox, a pillbox with reminders (like an alarm), or a medication dispenser.
- Ask your doctor to provide a care plan and write down care directions (or have a family member or friend take notes during the visit).
Sleep Tips for People Living With Dementia
Dementia often changes a person’s sleeping habits. You may sleep a lot, or not enough, and wake up many times during the night. Poor sleep quality can make dementia symptoms worse.
Follow a regular schedule by going to sleep and getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends or when traveling.
Develop a relaxing bedtime routine with lowered lights, cool temperature, and no electronic screens.
Avoid caffeine and naps late in the day.
Have a lamp that’s easy to reach and turn on, a nightlight in the hallway or bathroom, and a flashlight nearby.
Keep a telephone with emergency numbers by your bed.
Talk to your doctor if you have problems sleeping.
Healthy and Active Lifestyle Tips for People Living With Dementia
Participating in activities you enjoy and getting exercise may help you feel better, stay social, maintain a healthy weight, and have regular sleep habits.
Try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most or all days of the week. But be realistic about how much activity you can do at one time. Several short “mini-workouts” may be best.
Aim for a mix of exercise types — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. For example, you could do a mix of walking or dancing, lifting weights, standing on one foot, and stretching. Even everyday activities like household chores and gardening help you stay active.
Your diet may need to change as dementia progresses to maintain a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor about the best diet for you, and choose nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein and dairy products. Avoid added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
Stay social by talking on the phone with family and friends, joining an online support group, or going for a walk in your neighborhood.
Finding Care and Support: Tips for People Living With Dementia
Many people may be able to help in different ways. These people might include family members, friends, professional caregivers, community organizations, and others with dementia. For example, you can:
Ask friends or family to help with needs like cooking, paying bills, transportation, or shopping.
If you live alone, find people you trust who can visit often.
Consider letting trusted neighbors know of your diagnosis so they can help if needed.
Use social service agencies, local nonprofits, and Area Agencies on Aging to connect with in-home help, transportation, meals, and other services.