Living alone with dementia or memory issues can present its own set of unique challenges, but you don’t have to face them on your own. There are numerous people, care partners and organizations dedicated to helping support folks with memory issues, including those of us at the Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada (N4).
“It’s absolutely possible to lead a fulfilling life with dementia, with the right support and strategies in place,” said N4 Founder and Executive Director Amy Dewitt-Smith.
Here are ten valuable tips to help those living alone with dementia:.
- Seek an Accurate Diagnosis and Treatment Plan: Reach out to healthcare professionals who specialize in dementia and neurodegenerative diseases to make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. They will also help you tailor a treatment plan that might include medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.
- Develop a Daily Routine: Routines provide structure and comfort, helping to reduce some anxiety and resulting confusion you might have. Start by creating a daily schedule that includes regular meal times, exercise and rest. Make use of a wall calendar, desk calendar, organizer, reminder apps or visual cues to keep track of important events and tasks. Even post-it notes can help!
- Simplify Your Living Space: Minimize clutter and create an organized living environment. Label drawers, cabinets and doors to help you find what you need easily. Safety measures like removing tripping hazards and installing handrails can prevent possible accidents.
- Seek Respite Care and Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it. Respite care services can offer temporary relief to caregivers (family members, neighbors or friends) or provide assistance with daily tasks. N4 provides 5 hours a week of free respite care by trained, paid staff in the person’s home or out in the community.
- Stay Socially Engaged: Although you may be living alone, that doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
- Reach out to friends, family and support groups regularly — phone a friend or text your family! Just be sure to keep in touch. And, maybe use that wall calendar or app to remind you to keep in touch!
- Engage in activities that interest you, and seek out dementia-friendly social events in your community.
- Consider joining online forums or virtual support groups to help combat loneliness. Living Alone and Connected is a private Facebook group where people living alone with dementia can find information and connect with others.
- Educate Yourself and Your Support Network: Knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can about dementia, its progression and potential challenges. Share this information with family and close friends, so they can better understand your needs and provide appropriate support.
- The Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada offers free Savvy Caregiver training (in English or Spanish) to family care partners of people with dementia.
- N4 also offers free BRI Care Consultation as part of our free respite care program in 12 counties in Northern Nevada. In addition to respite care, the program includes telephone and email-based care coaching program to assist and support adults with health conditions and their family and friends who care for them.
- Keep Physically and Mentally Active: Exercise and mental stimulation are crucial for maintaining cognitive and physical health. Explore activities that you enjoy and can safely participate in, such as walking, gardening, puzzles or listening to music. Regular engagement can sometimes help slow the progression of dementia and it can defiantely boost your mood.
- Plan for the Future: While it’s essential to focus on the present, it’s equally important to plan for the future. Consider legal and financial matters, such as power of attorney, advanced directives, and setting up a living will. Having these documents in place can help ensure your wishes are respected.
- Embrace Technology: Technology can be a valuable tool for those living alone with dementia. Utilize smartphone apps or wearable devices that offer reminders, location tracking, and emergency alerts. Video calls with loved ones can help you stay connected and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Prioritize Safety: Safety should always be a top priority. Install locks and alarms to prevent wandering. Keep a list of emergency contacts and share it with someone you trust. It’s essential to have a plan in case of emergencies, such as a power outage or medical issue.
By following these tips, you can enhance your quality of life and find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. If you’re interested in learning more about N4’s programs, fill out an interest form and we’ll be in touch.