Living well with dementia
A diagnosis of dementia doesn't mean life has to grind to a halt overnight. There are lots of things you can do to continue enjoying later life and stay as independent as possible.
Everyone deals with the challenges of dementia in their own way, but here are some ideas that have helped others.
Around the house
- Follow a routine. Doing things at the same time each day or week can reassure you and stimulate your memory.
- Pin notes up in prominent places if there are things you need to do regularly, like locking the doors at night or putting out the recycling.
- Carry a notebook to write down daily tasks.
- Put important things, like glasses or keys, in the same place every time so that you know where to find them.
- Get a clock that shows the date and day of the week.
Interacting with others
- Ask questions if you don't understand or have forgotten what was said.
- Put important telephone numbers by the phone.
- Stay in touch with family and friends rather than isolate yourself.
- Carry a help card that can let people know you have dementia and includes the contact details of a chosen contact.
- Make sure other people don't take over - they may think they're helping by doing as much for you as possible.
Caring for someone?
Everyone’s experience of dementia is different. But being prepared can help you make the most of your time together, now and in the future.
- If you're still working, it's a good idea to tell your employer about your dementia diagnosis so they can help to you continue working. They have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to help you to continue working. This could include changing your work schedule, simplifying your routine, or using technology such as a computerised diary to remind you of deadlines and meetings.
- If you decide to stop working, get advice on your pension and any benefits you may eligible for first.
- If you're in the armed forces, work on a plane or ship, or your job involves driving, you must tell your employer if you are diagnosed with dementia.
Out and about
- If you drive, tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and your insurance company about your diagnosis. You may not have to stop driving straight away. If they decide you can continue driving they will review this again, usually after a year.
- When booking a holiday think about whether you want to travel to somewhere new or somewhere familiar. There are specialist companies, such as Revitalise, Tourism for all and Dementia adventure, that offer package holidays for people with dementia.
- Physical activity is not only good for your health, it can also improve your mood and lift your spirits. Walking, swimming, dancing and gentle exercise classes are all good options.
- If you're finding gardening harder than you used tocontact Thrive, who offer advice on practical solutions, such as choosing specially adapted tools, to make gardening easier.
Keeping yourself busy
- It can be hard to concentrate on the television. Listening to the radio can be easier as the brain only has to concentrate on the sound. Music can help bring back memories, which can be reassuring and enjoyable.
- If it's hard to focus on or follow books, try reading short stories or newspaper and magazine articles. Keep doing crosswords and Sudoku puzzles if you enjoy them, and don't worry if it takes you longer to complete them or you need to switch to an easier version.
- Think about volunteering. Contact Volunteering England to find out about volunteering opportunities.
- If you find it hard to manage the recipes you used to use, try to adapt them to suit you. For instance, if you find it hard to concentrate on a recipe with lots of different steps, look for a shorter one..