There are many positive steps you can take to help yourself cope with the changes dementia brings. The first thing to remember is that these changes are not going to happen suddenly. You will have time to adjust your lifestyle and to find help when you need it. With support you can find a new normal.
Here are 20 tips people with dementia have found useful to live well with dementia:
- Write appointments and things to do down or use apps. Make lists of what you need to do, keep a diary and get into the habit of checking it regularly, makings notes of where things are. A paper diary or an app on a smartphone can be useful for remembering what you have done as well as upcoming appointments or events.
- Use a paper calendar and keep it in a place you will look every day, like on the fridge or cupboard.
- Save yourself the trouble of remembering to pay bills. Ask your bank to set up direct debits and standing orders for all your regular bills such as gas, electricity and rent.
- Decide where to keep important things (like money, keys and eye glasses) and always keep them in the same place (like your bedside table). During the day, you may want to keep eye glasses or keys on a chain around your neck.
- Put clothes away in your wardrobe in complete outfits to save time getting ready in the morning.
- Use visual images and cues to help you remember. Use images on cupboards to remind you where things are kept or an image of a key by the front door to remind you to take your keys when you go out.
- If you sometimes get muddled about the day, date or time there are orientation clocks available to buy which display all of this information clearly in one place.
- Make a routine for yourself. You may find it easier to keep track if you have a regular way of doing things and a particular time to do them.
- Slow down and give yourself extra time to complete daily tasks to avoid stress.
- Timers can be a useful way of reminding yourself to check on cooking or change a load of washing.
- Ask your chemist or GP about help with remembering to take your medication.
- Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise regularly and make sure you take any medicines you are prescribed. Make sure you have regular eye tests, hearing tests and health checks with your GP.
- Keep up your social life and go out. If a friend seems to find it hard to know what to say to you, don’t let them drift away. Explain that you still need to see them, even if it is awkward at first for them.
- Take care of your mental health. Make sure that you have someone to talk to about your feelings about the illness.
- If you are depressed or have other worrying feelings or thoughts, you may be able to access counselling or other support through your GP.
- Be positive. Focus on what you can do instead of things that have become too difficult.
- Tell people that you have a memory problem and don’t be embarrassed to ask them to repeat or explain things.
- Be kind to yourself. If you get frustrated when things aren’t going well, remember it is the illness and not you.
- Ask for help when you need it and take it.
- Speak to people going through the same thing. There are groups, dementia cafes and online forums you can use to meet and speak to others in a similar situation to you.
More Living with Dementia Articles
This article is part of a series of articles called Living with Dementia. They are for Bromley residents and are being published one a week between 15th May and 3rd July 2017. See more Living with Dementia articles as they are published here.