What is dementia?
Dementia is not a single disease, but an umbrella term generally used to describe a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Forgetfulness is the most common symptom, however, difficulties with problem-solving, concentration and perception can also be part of this cognitive impairment.
For Sunrise Senior Living UK's residents, and indeed for all older people, the word dementia refers to a myriad of different symptoms. Whilst memory loss is usually the most commonly attributed symptom, confusion, mood changes and communication difficulties are also all possible.
No matter what living with dementia means for an individual, dementia aids can be a great way to cope with cognitive loss and make everyday life that little bit easier.
What are dementia aids?
Dementia aids are products specially designed for people living with dementia, as well as their loved ones and carers. These tools make home, living, or care environments safer for those who may be affected by dangerous or complex behaviours and support recollection.
Buying dementia aids can be a simple way to put the minds of family and carers at ease, as they can reduce the likelihood of forgetting daily tasks, losing important possessions, or being at risk of falls.
Dementia aids can also provide crucial prompts throughout the day, helping people to keep up to date with their daily calendars and remember hospital appointments or medication.
There are of course many different types of dementia, and people can experience both memory loss and recollection in different ways. There are a range of behaviours which may affect someone diagnosed with dementia - there is no one way they can be expected to act. As a result, choosing the right dementia aids means considering someone’s individual needs and skills in order to ensure they are using what are the most suitable and supportive options.
Whatever aids an individual may use, it is important that they can supported by others when using them or are offered practical advice. Some aids and strategies will work better for different people, so be prepared to give it time to try different ones and see what works best – and be prepared for this to change too.
What are examples of dementia aids?
Traditional memory aids
These aids can be simple tools which will assist with memory problems without the use of technology or digital products. These can include:
- Putting a calendar or noticeboard in a place where it can easily be viewed often, such as the fridge or by the front door. These can list contact numbers, appointments, activities or other things happening that day.
- Keeping a diary or journal which includes a few sentences every day about what an individual is doing or how they feel. This is a great way to look back on and reignite memories.
- Using sticky notes around the home or living environment, which can remind someone about a task they need to do or what different household devices are for.
- Using medicine organisers with are designed with different slots and days, which can help with remembering which medicine to take and when.
Electronic memory aids
Thanks to major advances in technology, electronic devices and specialised ‘assistive technology’ products can also help with daily tasks. These can include:
- Using an alarm clock or a watch with an alarm. These can remind someone when they need to leave for an appointment or activity, or when something they are cooking is ready.
- Having a mobile phone or tablet, which can offer a range of useful functions including accessing a daily calendar, digital photobooks, reminders, voice recordings or photos of things to remember.
- Downloading and using dementia-friendly apps on phones or tablets, such as maps, reminders, dementia-friendly games and puzzles, or mindfulness and relaxation apps.
Whatever dementia aid you or your loved one use, they can be a great way to make a home or care environment a more welcoming and safer place. Whilst they can ease problems for those in the early stages of dementia and living at home, dementia aids can also improve the wellbeing of those in the later stages who live in a care home. Crucially, dementia aids can help to ensure a person lives in a place that is safe, familiar and comfortable.
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, contact Sunrise Senior Living UK to find out more about how we can help. You can also visit your nearest Sunrise community.