It’s no secret—caring for a parent with dementia can be extremely challenging. But, putting together a solid care plan and building a supportive care team will go a long way in giving your loved one the very best care you can.
Here’s What You Should Be Considering
Laying out a routine, daily plan for memory care will help make life easier for you and for your parent. Having structured activities in place will often help improve mood and minimize irritability. Use this care plan as a guideline only. You will need to experiment, adjust, and try again until you find the best plan for you and your parent.
Here are some basics to consider when making a care plan:
- Likes, dislikes, strengths, abilities, and interests
- How your parent is used to structuring his or her day
- What times of the day Mom or Dad functions best
- How to ensure that your parent has sufficient time for meals, bathing, and getting dressed
- Creating regular times for waking up and going to bed each day
As dementia progresses, your loved one’s needs and abilities will change. Be prepared and willing to adjust the plan and daily schedule accordingly. Here are some daily activities to consider including in your care plan:
- Household chores
- Meal prep
- Creative hobbies, such as music, art, and crafts
- Brain-stimulating hobbies, including reading and puzzles
- Physical activity, such as taking a walk or an exercise class at the senior center
- Social engagement, including attending family functions or club meetings
- Spiritual nourishment, including church services or Sunday School classes
Be Thoughtful in Creating a Care Plan
Once you’ve thought about your parent’s likes, interests, and other preferences, it is time to draw up a care plan. Of course, there will be days in which unusual or unplanned events come up—and everyone will need to try to adjust, but on a day-to-day basis, seniors with dementia function best with structure and order.
When you are thinking about how to organize a typical day, consider:
- What activities work best for your loved one? Which activities don’t work? Why might that be? (Keep in mind that ability and interest levels may vary significantly from day to day.)
- Are there times in the day when there is too much going on or too little going on to keep Mom or Dad stimulated? Can you shift around daily activities on the calendar to reduce the chance of over- or under-stimulation?
- Does your parent enjoy and easily participate in spontaneous events? If so, how might you add in more of these to the schedule? If not, how can you help to reduce the anxiety associated with such activities?
Don’t Forget to Build a Care Team
To help you establish and maintain a good, daily routine, try building a supportive care team of family, friends, and senior care professionals around you. Your care team will likely include:
- Family members, whether living nearby or across the country
- A close friend(s) who know your family and understand your parent’s situation
- Neighbors or others who may be able to help with day-to-day tasks
- Your parent’s healthcare team, including her general practitioner and specialists
- A volunteer from a community organization or members of your parent’s church or other social groups who can lend support from time-to-time
Keeping your loved ones socially engaged with people your loved one cares about, as well as creating a support network for yourself as a caregiver, will go a long way in boosting wellbeing. Count on these trusted individuals to help with daily memory care, and in working towards the care plan you have established in order to provide the very best care.