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To help a person with Alzheimer's or dementia remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, it is important to address their changing needs early. Research shows that in the early stages, memory and cognitive changes can be slowed and that people can actually acquire new information and apply that learning to improve their performance on cognitive tasks.
As the person's abilities decline, it becomes more challenging to help them maintain their independence, but much can still be done to support the person and allow them to lead a more fulfilling life.
The articles and resources in this section are designed around caring for a loved one in a home environment but can also apply to facility care.
Mother’s Day is a special day for most families, and that makes it particularly difficult when Mom is living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is difficult for the person with dementia because they may not understand why things are different, and it is difficult for family and loved ones because they struggle trying to determine how to celebrate the day.
With a bit of thought and planning, there is no reason that Mother’s Day cannot be celebrated in an enjoyable and meaningful way, but you may have to think about it differently.
While giving gifts is enjoyable for both the gift giver and recipient, it is not (or shouldn’t be) the essence of celebrating Mother’s Day with someone with dementia. More important is engaging the person in meaningful activity, giving them the opportunity to be successful and to feel proud.
It isn't easy to care for someone with dementia. Whether that person is your spouse, parent, relative or friend, the challenges are there. If you are the primary caregiver, it's that much more difficult. To make it easier for you, and more meaningful for the person, it's important that you understand as much as you can about the disease and what you can do to help. You can't talk to the person in the same way, you can't do the same activities, you can't work and play together the way you used to. But there is a lot that you can do to make their life more fulfilling.
An important concept in dementia care is to enable and encourage the person with Alzheimer's or dementia to operate to the best of their abilities at all times. It is important to allow them to do as much for themselves (perhaps with your guidance) as possible. Not only does it give them self-esteem and a feeling of confidence that reinforces their willingness to do things, it helps them maintain their abilities as long as possible. If you start to do things for them that they are capable of doing, they will lose the ability to do it. This is referred to as "excess disability". It means that the loss of ability was caused by something other than the dementia.
Having someone at home with Alzheimer's or dementia can be challenging, but can also be rewarding. In the early stages of dementia things are pretty normal and life carries on pretty much as always. As time goes on and the disease progresses, changes have to be made both to the physical environment and also in day to day life.
There are many different types of dementia and each situation and person is different, but research has shown some common techniques that work well to help the person maintain their abilities as long as possible and lead a fulfilling life.