Become A Friend: How To Help People With Dementia

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Dementia affects thousands of Canadians. Yet, there is a lack of awareness and conversation around the issue. Knowing Canadians needed education, the Dementia Friends campaign was created. This national initiative is helping Canadians learn a little about dementia, and turn that knowledge into simple actions that can help those with dementia live better.

Learning about dementia is as simple as familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms, and applying some practical tips to deal with them. Dementia is more than just memory loss. There are other warning signs of dementia you can look for in everyday situations, and there are ways to help. When you know what to look out for, it’s easy for you to become a Dementia Friend.

In the Kitchen

When visiting a loved one with dementia, the kitchen is a good place to look for signs. A person affected by dementia may have trouble remembering to turn off the stove after cooking. One way you can help is by placing a note on the stovetop as a reminder to turn off the burner. Misplacing objects can be another symptom of dementia. You may discover objects in places they don’t belong, like milk in the cupboard. If you notice this happening often, you can offer to help by putting away groceries or dishes together.

At a Restaurant

Symptoms of dementia may reveal themselves during a restaurant outing. For example, people with dementia may be overwhelmed by the amount of choices on a menu. If you notice someone is having difficulty, start by asking what they would like to eat or what they feel like drinking.

A person with dementia may have difficulty performing simple financial transaction such as paying the bill. To help, suggest that they use their credit card or offer to help pay for their order.

At the Office

Many of us spend more time at work than anywhere else. Someone with dementia may have difficulty concentrating with conversations happening near their desk. If you notice a colleague experiencing these types of challenges, speak with them privately and let them know they have your support. You can also tell other colleagues to be mindful when gathering close to the person with dementia.

Driving

Driving is a routine activity for many of us, but to a person with dementia it can become a complicated task. Someone with dementia may have difficult following a simple route, even if they’ve driven it many times before. To help, you can offer to come along as the navigator and provide simple cues that remind them of their regular driving route.

Public Transit

Disorientation can be an early sign of dementia. A person with dementia may become lost in a place that is familiar to them, like the bus stop. If you notice someone looking confused, stop and offer your help. Telling the time may also be difficult for someone with dementia, which can make public transit challenging. If you know someone with dementia who travels by bus or subway, accompany them if you can.

These are only a few of the common scenarios where you may encounter dementia in your community. As you can see, it’s easy to be a Dementia Friend and learn a little bit to help those in your community.

To find out more signs and symptoms, myths and facts, and tips on communicating and spending time with those affected by dementia, visit www.dementiafriends.ca