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The Secret to Maintaining the Independence of your Loved One with Dementia

maintain-independence-ADLs-and-dementia-150x150Over time, individuals with dementia find it increasingly difficult to successfully execute activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing and eating. Eventually, these individuals will require more help from you to compensate. As caregivers, we need to pay attention to how well our loved ones perform their ADLs and support them as their abilities deteriorate.

While change is inevitable, stay optimistic. In My Past is Now My Future, A Practical Guide to Dementia Possible Care©, author Lanny Butler, MS, OTR, explains: “Activities learned early in life tend to be the last activities people with dementia will lose. Therefore, it is possible for people with dementia to continue to bathe and dress, and remain continent well into the last stages of dementia.”

How can we encourage our loved ones to retain the ability to carry out ADLs? Essentially, caregivers should work to provide just the right amount of assistance so loved ones can remain as independent as possible without getting frustrated or facing undue risks. Due to annoyance, impatience, or other challenges that many caregivers experience, oftentimes it can be tempting to over assist or take over certain activities to just “get them done.” However, it’s important to resist these urges as this can cause the individual to become even more reliant on outside help and continue to reduce their ability to act independently.

“Often it’s because we don’t expect them to be able to do so [perform ADLs], we take away [opportunities]. So, we’re finding that home health, actually, is the place to address it. And remember, for every ten people diagnosed with dementia, seven will never step foot, not even for one minute, into any form of long-term care,” says Butler.

Try this simple exercise: Place your hand under the hands of your loved one when guiding him or her in a task. In doing so, you maximize engagement and involvement while gently helping your loved one remember how to carry out the task.

Butler also reinforces the importance of an in-home assessment of patients who have received a new diagnosis of dementia. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to speak with your primary care physician. Find out more about Residential Home Health’s dementia care program, MindCare, and how it uses a clinical team approach including medical social workers, registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists as needed to provide the following:

  • Caregiver support and education
  • Strategies for living with dementia
  • Safety considerations

Call 248-524-6434 today to talk about your specific situation with a nurse.