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Over 5 million people in the United States and Canada are suffering from some form of dementia. For family members, this can be a scary and difficult time. This could be one of the signs that it may time to hire a caregiver to assist. There are several ways to help practice, improve and maintain functionality for your loved one. It’s important to try various ways to see what works best. While your grandfather may be a visual person, perhaps your aunt may need auditory cues. So the question is, where do you start?

Keep a daily journal. It’s been said that by writing something down, it can help you to remember things more effectively. According to an article from LifeHack, when you write something down with a pen and paper, you are stimulating a collection of cells in the base of your brain known as the reticular activating system. This is the filter that allows your brain to process information. For those with dementia, this can be an excellent tool not only for daily tasks, but also with emotional retention. It may be hard for them to remember particular relationships or emotions that have towards a particular individual. By writing these down, it can help to jolt the brain to assist in remembering things they experience from the weather to how they felt that day.

Try out touch and visual cues. Caregivers can assist with some of the daily tasks that may seem simple and redundant, but can be more helpful if the patient gets to physically do it on their own. For example, ask them to make a cup of coffee or to do their morning routine for the day. Ask specific questions such as:

  • What do you normally do first?
  • What do you put in your coffee?
  • Where is your tooth brush located?
  • What do you normally brush your hair with?

These types of questions may seem simple, but it’s important that each day these types of tasks stay consistent to keep them on the right track.

Keep moving and stay active. Physical activity is fantastic not only for your body, but for your mind. By doing physical activity that someone enjoys, such as dancing or taking walks, it will increase the blood flow to your brain. Make sure that the physical activities are not overexerting. Refrain from running or playing tennis. Try something more like gardening or a trip to the beach. With dementia patients, they can experience a lack of balance or a type of visual impairment. It’s key that every physical activity is done with care and supervision.

Name and face association. During the second stage of dementia, patients may experience a loss of recognizing the names and faces of those they may know the most or are closest with. Unfortunately, this process can’t be stopped, but with the use of photos you can help keep the memory alive as long as possible. Use the photos to make the association for them of what their name is and the relationship they have with that particular person. The more often you go through these, the better chances to increase the longevity of this portion of the memory.

These are just a few of the dozens of ways to work on memory improvement for those suffering from dementia. At HomeHero, we understand that this can be a trying time for families and caregivers. The added stress can be difficult to deal with, but we are here to help. If you have any questions, please contact a doctor, therapist or the HomeHero staff to guide you in the right direction.

What struggles have you experienced when working with a loved one who suffers from dementia? Have any other great ideas to share with others? Send us your thoughts on Twitter @HomeHero or share a comment of Facebook!

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