Close to half a million Australians are currently living with dementia. As our ageing population increases, this number continues to rise. Anyone responsible for the care of someone with dementia knows the difficulty of helping them retain their independence, especially when the dementia sufferer lives alone.
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Many elderly people with dementia have a strong desire to keep living at home - it is the challenge of loved ones to navigate the practical and safety issues that arise, to help them maintain their independence for as long as possible. It is of course however, crucial to regularly reassess if the degree of risk for a person living with dementia at home is still acceptable.
If you’re trying to find a way of managing your partner’s dementia at home or to help other loved ones with dementia remain at home, there are a number of things you can do. For example, placing large calendars and clocks around the home can really help to orientate with time. With careful planning and the strategic implementation of some care support, an older person with dementia can maintain independence for a significant time.
Here are some other things you can do to prepare the home environment safely and to ensure that your loved one is eating and dressing properly every day.
- If possible, inform neighbours of the person’s condition so that they can spot dangerous signs (eg water seeping through the front door, smelling smoke etc)
- Ensure the house is well lit and install nightlights in the bedroom.
- Un-clutter the space and remove any obvious hazards (faulty appliances, loose carpets, unsteady furniture)
- Replace long electrical cords with coiled or retractable ones.
- Install safety switches throughout the home.
- Handrails in shower and toilet
- Reduce the temperature of the hot water taps
- Use appliances with automatic cut-off mechanisms
- Stick a list of contacts in large print next to the telephone
The Independent Living Centre (ILC) operates in each State and Territory and offers many services to promote safe living (monitoring services, smoke detectors, hot water temperature regulators)
EATING & DRESSING
- Set an alarm for them, or make a quick call to them at mealtimes, to remind them to eat.
- Have snacks available that are easy to eat and don’t need refrigeration so that they can be left in clear view on countertops and not forgotten.
- Some in-home support from a dementia support worker can be incredibly useful for help with eating and dressing. They can assist with meal preparation and serving/discretely prompt to eat at mealtimes, as well as lay clothing out for the patient in the evenings so that they are reminded to dress when they wake. Find mental health support workers here.
For more information, support and advice on managing your partner’s dementia, or dealing with dementia in any other loved one, you can call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Dementia Australia is a fantastic resource for advice, tips and more detailed information on all aspects of living and caring for dementia. They also have dementia support workers available to talk on live web chat.