Tips for Caregivers and Families of People With Dementia

A caregiver, sometimes referred to as a caretaker, refers to anyone who provides care for another person. Millions of people living in the United States take care of a friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Sometimes caregivers live with the person or nearby, other times they live far away. For many families, caring for a person with dementia isn’t just one person’s job, but the role of many people who share tasks and responsibilities. No matter what kind of caregiver you are, taking care of another person can be overwhelming at times. These tips and suggestions may help with everyday care and tasks.

Tips for Everyday Care for People With Dementia Early on in Alzheimer’s and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning in a way that affects daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple, everyday tasks. This may include bathing, grooming, and dressing. It may be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities.

Here are a few tips to consider early on and as the disease progresses:

• Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
• Help the person write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
• Plan activities that the person enjoys and try to do them at the same time each day.
• Consider a system or reminders for helping those who must take medications regularly.
• When dressing or bathing, allow the person to do as much as possible.
• Buy loose-fitting, comfortable, easy-to-use clothing, such as clothes with elastic waistbands, fabric fasteners, or large zipper pulls instead of shoelaces, buttons, or buckles.
• Use a sturdy shower chair to support a person who is unsteady and to prevent falls. You can buy shower chairs at drug stores and medical supply stores.
• Be gentle and respectful. Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step while you help them bathe or get dressed.
• Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and give the person enough time to eat.

For more information on how to manage changes in communication and behavior for people with dementia, from the National Institute on Aging, CLICK HERE.