If you are in the Sydney area, visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales any Thursday or Friday during September to discover its access to art programs for people living with dementia and their carers. Engaging with creativity is not only meaningful, but it has proven benefits in helping to cope with the condition.
With the right kind of help, people living with dementia are defying many of the stereotypes that surround the disease. You can learn more about this fascinating topic on Wednesday 13 September when the Gallery will host a public lecture by Prof Steven Sabat of Georgetown University in the United States. World Alzheimer’s Day falls on Thursday 21 September. If you would like to participate in fundraising you can find a full event schedule and contact information for NSW here.
Through our experience caring for people with dementia, we know how life-changing a diagnosis can be – both for the person with the disease and for their loved ones. If you are in this situation, remember that you are not alone. Lots of information and support is available, and realising that is one of the first steps towards dementia management.
In the early stages of the disease, a person with dementia will continue to function more or less as normal. If you are going to be a care partner, your role early on will be to provide support and companionship, while helping to plan for the future.
One of the biggest challenges is finding the right balance between helping your loved one when they need it and maximising their independence when they don’t. Identifying safety risks is always important, to make sure they are not exposed to harm or injury. Beyond that, it’s a case of working together and focusing carefully on the balance between independence and interdependence.
You will come to discover that it is not just about managing the disease itself. Coping with the emotional impact – for the person with dementia and their caregiver – is a big part of it. Denial, fear, stress, anger, frustration and even depression are feelings you both may experience. Talking about these emotions together is a good way of coping, and attending a support group can also help. Encouraging the person with dementia to talk about their feelings or write them in a journal may be therapeutic as well.
The right lifestyle
As Prof Sabat will discuss in his Dementia Awareness Month lecture, people living with dementia are able to enjoy rich lives. Living well with the disease relies on having a positive day-to-day lifestyle. Here are our five tips on better living for people with dementia:
1 – Stay active
Some studies show that regular physical activity helps people live better with the disease.
2 – Healthy eating
A balanced diet that’s low in fat with lots of vegetables is important.
3 – A good night’s sleep
Make sure the daily routine always allows for quality sleep time.
4 – Stay social
Continuing to engage with friends and family has huge emotional and moral support benefits.
5 – Avoid stress
Learn which situations cause anxiety for the person with dementia, and help them relax whenever stress is a factor.
If you’re looking after someone with dementia, don’t forget to look after yourself too. It’s crucial. You can find out more about the support available on the Alzheimer’s Association Australia’s web page, and at the Alzheimer’s Australia site, which includes details of Dementia Awareness Month.
To talk to someone about finding the right care for yourself or a loved one with dementia, feel free to contact us. Call Twilight Aged Care today on 02 9414 4400.