10 Tips to Maintain Independence With Dementia

If you have Alzheimer's disease or another kind of dementia, you may be worried about how to best maintain your independence. This is a common concern especially for those who are adjusting to a new diagnosis, but there are a number of simple things you can do that will help as your memory becomes less reliable.

Woman writing in journal at patio table
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Using memory prompting strategies early on can develop patterns of behavior that can maximize your independence, as well as your confidence. Try these 10 tips.

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.

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.

Use Bulletin Boards

You can pin reminders, time-tables, ideas, schedules, and lists to bulletin boards. Bulletin boards are great visual reminders. Helpers or caregivers can also put reminders of activities that you have scheduled, the date and day, and an inspiring verse or phrase.

Use Labels to Remind and Identify

Put labels on things to remind you where things are stored, identify possessions or accomplish specific tasks such as locking your door and windows at night or letting out the dog.

Consistently Use Address and Personal Phone Books

Keep your phone and address book by the phone with important numbers written prominently on one page. You can also keep a notebook right by the phone to keep track of who you called when you made the call, and what your conversation was about.

Make Use of Technology

Consider setting up 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 or attending an important social gathering or meeting.

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.

Organize Important Objects Together

Get into the habit of always putting keys, money and your glasses in the same place. This can help you keep track of these items more easily.

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 times. Frequent reminders of the day, date and time are likely to increase orientation.

Read Daily Newspapers, News Sites, or Social Media Pages

News sites not only keep you in touch with current events but also act as a reminder for the day of the week. Staying up-to-date on current events can provide cognitive stimulation and allow you to more relevantly interact with others. Interestingly, some research found that older adults who spent time on Facebook demonstrated improvements in their memory.

1 Source
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  1. Wohltmann Myhre J. Effects of Online Social Networking on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Health of Older Adults [dissertation]. Tucson: University of Arizona; 2013.

By Christine Kennard
 Christine Kennard is a psychiatric nurse practicing in the United Kingdom and co-author of "Alzheimer's Disease: An A-Z For New Caregivers."