5 Everyday Dementia Tips for Caregivers

5 Everyday Dementia Tips for Caregivers

Caring for a person or loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's disease is challenging at times, especially at the beginning and during times of transition. Fortunately, the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center has outlined our top caregiver tips for those whose loved one’s have Alzheimer's or another type of dementia.

Read on for more tips for caregivers coping with dementia, and don't hesitate to reach out to our licensed social work team for professional support, guidance, and solutions.

Establish a Daily Routine for the Person with Dementia

Establishing a daily routine can provide many benefits for both you and your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. When possible, we recommend keeping a relatively consistent mealtime, wake-up time, and sleeping times.

Creating a schedule will not only help them to stay engaged and busy throughout the day, it may also decrease challenging behavioral symptoms and improve their mood. The Penn Memory Center offers a sample daily routine schedule you may consider using.

Morning Sample Daily Routine for People with Dementia

  • Wake, brush teeth, wash, and dress
  • Breakfast
  • Read poetry or a short story
  • Fold laundry
  • Do chair exercises or go for a walk
  • Work on a Puzzle

Afternoon Sample Routine Schedule for a Person with Alzheimer's or Dementia

  • Make and eat lunch
  • Watch a movie
  • Take a brief nap or have quiet time
  • Look at old photos
  • Tend to plants in the garden
  • Sweep floors, wipe countertops, and dust furniture

Evening Sample Routine Schedule for Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease

  • Make and eat dinner
  • Do the dishes and put them away
  • Practice a guided meditation
  • Call a loved one
  • Relax by listening to soothing music
  • Bathing, preparing for bed, reading a book

Of course, your schedule can be tailored to the unique needs and interests of the person with dementia.

Dementia Tips for Caregivers at Mealtime

Mealtimes can be difficult or stressful for caregivers and those with dementia. However, there are several ways you can make mealtimes more enjoyable and successful for your loved one. One key tip is to understand the reason for any changes in eating habits for the person with dementia.

Surprisingly, the dementia diagnosis may not be the cause of their change in appetite. For example, your loved one living with dementia could be eating less because of a loss of taste as a medication side effect. Here are a few tips you can use to make mealtimes more enjoyable for all. 

  • Create a lunch and dinner routine to help your loved one's body clock adjust to eating at a certain time daily.
  • Create the right ambiance — for example, turn off the radio and TV.
  • Offer a single food at a time — instead of loading the plate with too many options.
  • Cut vegetables and meat into bite-size portions — this can help with chewing and swallowing.
  • If your loved one doesn't have the dexterity to use a fork and knife, serve foods that can be eaten with fingers.
  • Give your loved one with Alzheimer's disease ample time to eat and finish their meal.
  • Compensate for loss of senses. As your loved one's dementia or Alzheimer's progresses, they may experience the inability to smell, taste, and see food which can decrease their desire to eat. You can make food more appetizing by adding more salt-free or sodium-free flavors to enhance the food. Stimulating their sense of smell can be achieved with the aromas of freshly baked food. For loss of sight, use colorful foods and even colorful plates can make it easier to see and may even help stimulate their appetite.
  • While eating is vital, avoid making it a task for your loved one. One way to lighten the environment is by having a relatable conversation over dinner.

Create Meaningful Engagement Opportunities

Meaningful interactions can help decrease challenging behaviors, improve mood, and help with sleep. Meaningful, stimulating, and pleasant activities that help create an emotional connection, trigger memories, and engage the senses are undoubtedly the most impactful. Examples include:

  • Dancing and singing
  • Baking
  • Arranging flowers and planting seeds
  • Watching a favorite TV show or an old movie
  • Starting arts and crafts
  • And more

There are an endless range of activities you can perform with your loved one to create meaningful engagement. 

Participate in Virtual and In-Person Programming at LIAD 

If you struggle to develop activities, the Long Island Alzheimer's & Dementia Center can help. Join us Monday through Saturday at our day programs for engaging and stimulating activities. You can also visit our Virtual Programs page to watch and participate with our program assistants as they coach through activities such as exercise, sing-a-long, word games and more!

In-Person Hands-On Programming

Since temporarily closing our doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we reopened in June 2021 with new protocols in place to maintain a safe and structured environment for our families and staff.

Our new coronavirus protocols include:

  • Health checks before entry
  • Wear a mask at all times
  • Social distancing of 6 feet
  • Daily facility sanitation
  • Frequently wash hands
  • Individual program material per participant

Learn more about our in-person day programs: 

Self-Care Is Paramount

As a caregiver, you have a lot on your plate. But no matter the circumstances, it's imperative for you to take care of yourself. A few key tips for you to take care of yourself and manage your anxiety include:

  • Exercising or taking a walk
  • Phoning a friend
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

Attend Peer-Based Group Therapy

At the Long Island Alzheimer's & Dementia Center, we also offer a community of support for caregivers through our Support Group program. Our support groups are hosted by licensed social workers and tailored to best meet your needs. We offer groups for:

  • Spouses
  • Adult children
  • Early-stage dementia
  • Caregivers and companion

Get One-on-One Therapy

We also offer a Counseling Service for those who prefer more of a one-on-one session. Our licensed clinical social workers offer psychotherapy via Telehealth as well as in-person sessions. Therapy can help you:

  • Discover more about yourself
  • Build new coping skills
  • Better communication
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Prioritize commitments and self-care
  • Manage stress and anxiety
  • Increase your overall life satisfaction
  • Resolve underlying fears or trauma

To learn more about our caregiver support services by calling (516) 767-6856.

About the Author Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center

At the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, our mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, and their caregivers. We actively work to achieve this mission through research-based programming for all stages of Alzheimer’s, Caregiver Support Groups, in-home respite solutions, transportation options, and additional services.

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