Providing homecare to an aging parent is one of the most difficult tasks we must take on. Caregiving can be especially difficult if your parent is one of over 5 million Americans who suffers with dementia. Caring for a person with dementia presents unique challenges that can be difficult to overcome. Fortunately, we have invested time in uncovering some convenient seniors with dementia life hacks. These Life Hacks will make caring for your aging parent easier, so you can focus on building great memories with them.
Life Hacks for Wandering:
Wandering is an incredibly common issue with people suffering from Alzheimer’s Dementia. In fact, 3 out of 5 people afflicted with dementia frequently wander. This behavior can put your loved one at increased risk for injury and becoming lost. Fortunately, there are a few seniors with dementia life hacks that you can do to prevent your loved one from leaving the house.
Camouflage Doors and Exits
Your parent might wander out of the house thinking they are navigating from room to room. To prevent this, mark ‘safe’ doors with bright colors and labels, and paint ‘danger’ doors and frames the same color as the walls. This will cut down on confusion and wandering.
Install Rounded Door Knobs
Rounded door knobs are easy for caregivers to use, but can be very difficult for a senior to grasp. Because of this make sure that all ‘danger’ doors have rounded knobs, while all ‘safe’ doors have door handles.
Purchase Trick Locks
There are several anti-wandering locks on the market that are easy for caregivers who know the trick of opening the lock, but are very difficult for seniors with dementia to understand. Use these locks on doors for extra security.
Sew or Iron-on ID Labels
If your loved one does manage to get out of the house unattended, you can be prepared by providing identification on all their clothing. Make sure their name, a contact phone number, and their address are included in this picture. We have created a template for you to use to create your own at home!
Wearable GPS Tracker
Many police stations are responding to the needs of families with wandering seniors in their community. Likely, your local police have a program to help find wandering seniors that you can enroll your loved one in. Many communities offer free devices for families whose needs qualify. Call your local police station to see if your loved one qualifies for any anti-wandering program.
Life Hacks for Eating & Cooking:
Eating and cooking present unique challenges to those who are suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These issues can range from kitchen safety, to motor function, to not having a proper appetite. With our seniors with dementia life hacks for eating and cooking, you and your loved one can have pleasant dinning experiences from now on.
Create DIY Dementia Grip Silverware
Silverware can often become unusable to a senior with dementia due to a loss of fine motor function. Often this can be a source of shame to a person who is aging. To preserve your loved one’s dignity while providing homecare, create DIY Dementia Grip Silverware with Sugru!
Remove Knobs from Stove
While it is an excellent idea to engage your loved one with dementia in activities like cooking and baking, you must make sure that they stay safe while they do it. To ensure that your loved one does not accidentally operate their stove unsupervised, remove the knobs from the stove and oven when you are absent. Doing this will help to prevent a fire hazard in their home.
Create Easy Heat Make Ahead Meals
While people with dementia may need a little extra help than the average person, it is still important to help them maintain their autonomy. Giving seniors the power to choose and heat their own meals can go a long way in giving them a feeling of independence. Prepare make ahead meals in batches at the beginning of each week that are easy to freeze and reheat. This will keep your loved one’s nutritional and mental needs well cared for.
Make DIY Straw Holders
Picking up a cup and drinking from it may be no trouble for you, but it can result in chaos for a senior who is struggling with a loss of motor function. Fortunately, you can create a washable, reusable DIY straw holder that attaches directly to a senior’s cup to stay spill-free while drinking.
Use Brightly Colored Plates
Many people suffering with dementia have difficulty seeing and separating objects visually. Because of this, bland colored foods can blend into plates and make meal time very difficult. To prevent this, purchase brightly colored plates so that seniors can easily see their food in contrast.
Life Hacks for Social Engagement & Fun:
Research has shown that people who are regularly engaged socially are better able to maintain good brain health. This is true even after cognitive decline has begun. The more a person can maintain a healthy amount of social activity, the slower their decline will be. We have created a few fun seniors with dementia life hacks to keep your loved one engaged and active.
Create Playlists of their Favorite Songs
Many studies have shown that music from a dementia patient’s past can reawaken memories and increase happiness. Make a playlist of songs from your loved one’s youth and play them in your home. This can help to soothe your loved one if they become restless.
Spark Stories with Childhood Photos
People who are caring for a loved one with dementia often struggle with conversation. They don’t want to trigger an upsetting concept to their loved one, but they do want to ensure their loved one is conversationally engaged. Try showing your loved one photos from their childhood. This will give them the chance to speak confidently about something, and you might even learn a new story from their past!
As simple as this seems, clipping coupons can be a great task for people with dementia. The repetitive motion is easy to perform and your loved one will take great pleasure in being able to help you with a task. One of the major things that can keep a person cognitively healthy is having a sense of purpose. If your loved one feels more like a help than a hindrance, they will be ecstatic to assist.
Take Time Outside
Being cooped up in the same space for a long duration of time can take a mental toll on anyone. This is no less true for people suffering with dementia. Be sure to take your loved one on an outside excursion at least three times a week. Whether this is a trip to the park, a mall, or even a sporting event, it can really benefit their mental health.
Use Fidget Toys
Fidget toys aren’t just for children! People with dementia often become anxious and develop extreme fidgeting behavior. To soothe their restlessness try offering them a toy to fidget with. Their grandson might even find it fun to teach grandma how to use a fidget spinner!
We hope that with these seniors with dementia life hacks that you will be able to better navigate life with your loved one. Providing quality homecare for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, but with the right outlook you can help to make your loved one’s life amazing. Please let us know in the comments if you know any dementia “life hacks” you can share with our homecare community.
If you think your loved one might be showing signs of cognitive decline, take our free dementia assessment tool to gauge their mental ability. This tool should only be used as a resource. If you think your loved one might be showing signs of dementia, take them to their PCP for a formal diagnosis.