I can’t remember where I was but I’ve had a few animated conversations lately with carers and professionals about making ‘time’ available to enable people with dementia to remain independent.
There’s no worse feeling than realising you have to rely on others to do things for you. It reduces confidence and ‘disables’ the person before they have lost the ability to perform simple actions. Simply because time is a factor doesn’t mean you should automatically take over. A good example of this is tying someone’s shoe lace….yes, you can do it twice as fast and you might be in a hurry but has the person lost the ability to tie it themselves if you gave them more time? If they have lost the ability, slip on shoes or shoes with velcro fastening may enable the person to remain independent.
Some carers are fearful of their loved ones going out alone. This ‘fear’ may make the person with dementia feel as though they have totally lost their independence and are reliant on others. Think how you would feel if you were no longer allowed to go out on your own. No longer able to pop to the shops or have a half hour walk on your own to clear the cobwebs away. If you really are so concerned, maybe come up with different strategies – arrange to have someone else meet them at the destination; or use current technologies to locate their whereabouts; or come up with coping strategies for if something went wrong – e.g. make sure they have your phone number on them and a charged mobile and their name and address written down. Talk through what to do if they become confused or lost.
Simple adaptions can keep a person independent for longer – it also gives you a break – as long as you don’t spend the time worrying!
The sooner the person with dementia becomes familiar with strategies, the easier further down the line it becomes to use them. For those with dementia and for loved ones, don’t leave it too late to use new strategies. If you become familiar with them now you won’t have to learn them later on.
Plan and adapt for the future now and the future will seem less daunting.