10 Tips to Maintain Independence with Dementia

Living Indepently: Woman with Dementia Writing a Note to Remind Herself
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There are a number of simple things you can do that will help maintain your independence as your memory becomes less reliable. Using memory prompting strategies early on gets you into a pattern of behavior that can maximize your independence, as well as your confidence.

1) Use routines

Having a routine is one of the best memory prompts. Patterns of behavior become an aid to memory and help a person with dementia feel secure and less anxious too.

2) Write It down

Keep a diary or notepad. You can use a daily diary to write down the everyday tasks, household duties and activities that you have arranged or want to do. You can also use them for thoughts and ideas. Family members or caregivers can add in activities or 'must do's' on your list if you want as well.

3) Use bulletin boards

You can pin reminders, time-tables, ideas, etc on them and it is a good alternative or backup system to a diary. Bulletin boards are great visual reminders. Helpers or caregivers can also put reminders of activities or what day it is.

4) Labels help identify possessions and remind you of tasks

Put labels on things to remind you where things are or remind you to lock your door and windows at night, or let out the cat!

5) Address books and phones numbers aid memory

Keep your phone and address book by the phone with important numbers written prominently on one page.

6) Electronic prompt services such as texts or reminders in your phone's calendar

These types of services can be used for reminders and cues of things that need to be done, such as taking your medications.

7) Alarm and GPS services

In addition to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, you might benefit from global positioning services (GPS) or an alarm where you can summon help if needed.

8) Group important objects together

Get into the habit of always putting keys, money, glasses in the same place.

9) Use clocks with date displays

Having clocks with date displays in every room helps you identify the time and date of the day and can trigger your memory for activities that are scheduled at certain time. Frequent reminders of the day, date and time are likely to increase orientation.

10) Daily newspapers or online news sites can provide cognitive stimulation

News sites not only keep you in touch with current events but also act as a reminder for the day of the week.

More Memory Strategies

Edited by: Esther Heerema, MSW, Alzheimer's/Dementia Expert

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