Collaborating with the DSDC (Dementia Services Development Centre), we've gathered a collection of helpful hints and tips to embrace a dementia-inclusive approach in our daily lives.
Our aim is to build a compassionate and supportive community that values the unique perspectives and experiences of individuals affected by dementia.
Give one instruction at a time.
Processing too much information at once can be challenging. Instead of overwhelming with multiple instructions like "Put on your jacket and shoes. Have you seen the car keys? Do you have your bag?", it's more helpful to take things step by step. After each action is completed, ask the next question in a sequence. This approach makes communication clearer and more manageable for someone living with dementia.
Eliminate background noises.
Certain individuals with dementia might find it challenging to engage in a conversation or recognise when someone is speaking to them, especially when there's excessive background noise. To create a more conducive environment, consider turning off the TV or radio if they're not being actively watched or listened to. Additionally, if the washing machine is causing a lot of noise in the kitchen, it's best to keep the door shut to minimise distractions and support better communication.
Mirrors may be distressing for individuals who don't recognise themselves, leading them to believe someone is looking through the window or intruders are present. To alleviate this unease, consider either removing mirrors or covering them with a blind or sheet. As darkness falls, drawing the curtains can also prevent reflections in the window from startling living with dementia who may not recognise their own reflection. These simple adjustments can create a more comfortable and reassuring environment for them.
Declutter kitchen surfaces.
An overly cluttered kitchen can be distracting and worsen some symptoms for individuals living with dementia. For instance, when someone enters the kitchen to make a cup of tea, the overwhelming sight of too many items on the surfaces might cause them to leave without remembering their initial purpose. To create a more supportive environment, clear away unnecessary items, and keep out only the essentials. For example, if making tea is a routine, leave the necessary equipment in an uncluttered kitchen as visual cues, or place a plate of snacks to serve as a reminder to eat throughout the day. By simplifying the kitchen space, we can help them navigate their daily tasks more smoothly and maintain a sense of comfort and familiarity.
Keep the windows clear.
Prune back foliage or trees that obstruct the sunlight streaming through windows. Natural daylight, especially in the morning, plays a crucial role in maintaining our circadian rhythms. By clearing any hindrances to natural light, you can help regulate circadian rhythms and enhance visibility within the space.
Make it a habit to regularly inspect lightbulbs to ensure they are in working condition, especially if you primarily visit the person you care for during the day. Additionally, keep in mind that energy-saving light bulbs tend to lose brightness over time, so it's advisable to replace them periodically to maintain adequate illumination.
Motivate the person living with dementia to engage actively and focus on building upon their existing abilities. By encouraging their involvement in daily tasks, we help prevent skill decline that may occur when abilities are left unused. Even simple activities like folding washing or preparing dinner can hold great meaning, offering a sense of accomplishment and meaningful participation in their daily life. Let's embrace their capabilities and empower them to experience fulfillment through these activities.