Improving the Quality of Life for Dementia Patients
So much of the time when we talk about issues facing people with dementia, the focus is on tips for prevention or news about treatment options. Those are both very important, but for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, maintaining a good quality of life is just as much of a priority.
Having a healthy social life, participating in activities you enjoy and maintaining good physical and mental health are important factors for good quality of life for everyone, and of course it’s no different for those suffering from dementia. Unfortunately, too many times our loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or dementia find themselves feeling isolated and alone. This can lead to depression and even further deterioration in cognitive abilities. On the plus side, when people with dementia have comfortable surroundings and interaction with others, they are happier and less likely to show worrisome behavior.
Below are three categories used to help measure quality of life. With a little creativity, you can find some good ways to help ensure your loved ones have the safe, comfortable and interactive environment that fosters good quality of life.
Social Engagement and Emotional Support. Connecting with others is very important for human beings. There are many ways to help provide the opportunities for social engagement for your loved ones with dementia that won’t put added stress on you as the caregiver. Look for support groups and adult care centers with groups specifically for dementia-care patients that can provide social interaction on a regular basis. You might consider an in-home caregiver who not only helps out with some of the daily tasks but also serves as someone to talk with and provide companionship. Church members and neighbors who visit on a regular basis are also good forms of support.
Meaningful Activities. It is easy to assume that our loved ones who no longer have the cognitive abilities they once did cannot participate in activities they would enjoy, but staying active is a vital part of maintaining physical and mental health. Find some things to do with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia that you can both do together (this way you kill two birds with one stone by providing social engagement as well). Ideas include activities such as reading a book or magazine out loud together, painting, playing board games or gardening.
Safe and Comfortable Environment. Having a regular routine in a living area that is both safe and comfortable is a primary factor in fostering good quality of life. Make sure your loved one has the necessary physical adaptations, such as bars in the shower and slip guards on hardwood floors, to provide stability and prevent falls.
Comfort can also mean surrounding your loved one with items that bring joy, such as a soft blanket or a stuff animal. Research has found that stuffed animals provide similar tactile comfort as pet therapy, where stroking the animal has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce agitation and produce a sense of well-being. You can find a variety of stuffed companions, from pets to dolls to teddy bears, at Comfort Companions. All of our products designed for seniors are weighted to provide a feeling of security, and are the perfect size for adults.