Living well with Dementia
A diagnosis of dementia does not mean that life has to grind to a halt. There are lots of things which can allow individuals to continue enjoying life and stay as independent as possible.
Everyone deals with the challenge dementia brings in their own way, but here are some ideas which may be of help:
Around the House
- Follow a routine. Doing things at the same time each day or week can reassure you and stimulate your memory;
- Pin notes up in prominent places if there are things you need to do regularly, like locking the doors at night or putting out the recycling;
- Carry a notebook to write down daily tasks;
- Put important things, like glasses or keys, in the same place every time so that you know where to find them;
- Put regular bills on direct debit, so you don’t forget to pay them;
- Use a pill organiser box (dosette box) to help you remember which medicines to take when (your pharmacist can help you get one);
- Get a clock that shows the date and day of the week.
Interacting with others
- When you are ready, it is best to tell others about your diagnosis. It’s also good to tell them what you may have trouble with, such as following a conversation or remembering what was said. Try to explain what your diagnosis means and the ways in which they can help and support you;
- Ask questions if you don’t understand or have forgotten what was said;
- Put important telephone numbers by the phone;
- Stay in touch with family and friends rather than isolate yourself;
- Carry a help card that can let people know you have dementia and includes the contact details of a chosen contact;
- Make sure other people don’t take over – they may think they’re helping by doing as much for you as possible.
- If you are still working, it is a good idea to tell your employer about your dementia diagnosis so they can help to you continue working. They have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to help you to continue working. This could include changing your work schedule, simplifying your routine, or using technology such as a computerised diary to remind you of deadlines and meetings;
- If you decide to stop working, get advice on your pension and any benefits you may eligible for first;
- If you are in the Armed Forces, work on a plane or ship, or your job involves driving, you must tell your employer if you are diagnosed with dementia.
Out and about
- If you drive, tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and your insurance company about your diagnosis. You may not have to stop driving straight away. If they decide you can continue driving they will review this again, usually after a year;
- When booking a holiday think about whether you want to travel to somewhere new or somewhere familiar. There are specialist companies, such as Revitalise, Tourism for all and Dementia adventure, that offer package holidays for people with dementia;
- Physical activity is not only good for your health, it can also improve your mood and lift your spirits. Walking, swimming, dancing and gentle exercise classes are all good options;
- If you are finding gardening harder than you used to, contact Thrive, who offer advice on practical solutions, such as choosing specially adapted tools, to make gardening easier.
Keeping yourself busy
- It can be hard to concentrate on the television. Listening to the radio can be easier as the brain only has to concentrate on the sound. Music can help bring back memories, which can be reassuring and enjoyable;
- If it’s hard to focus on or follow books, try reading short stories or newspaper and magazine articles. Keep doing crosswords and Sudoku puzzles if you enjoy them, and don’t worry if it takes you longer to complete them or you need to switch to an easier version;
- Think about volunteering. Contact Volunteering England to find out about volunteering opportunities.;
- Dementia Friends is a social action movement developed by The Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia Friends encourages people to learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action.
- There are a number of Dementia Champions operating across West Berkshire. The Dementia Champions are able to deliver Dementia Friends sessions for the public or organisations. These are currently being held virtually either via webinar or live streaming.
- There are now over 4600 Dementia Friends living, working and studying in West Berkshire.
- For more information about Dementia Friends please navigate to www.dementiafriends.org.uk