Living alone

7. Everyday tasks

Dementia makes everyday tasks more difficult, especially as it progresses. You may also have other conditions that make things harder, such as hearing loss or problems with your sight, or both.

If you live alone, you may have to develop particular ways of remembering to take your medication or leave out the bins. Or you may need to develop ways of managing everyday tasks around the house, such as cooking, cleaning or washing.

There are lots of things you can do to help make everyday activities manageable. Some are as simple as using a calendar. There is also technology (known as ‘assistive technology’) that can help.

  • If you have memory problems, a diary or calendar can help you remember appointments, tasks and visits. Computers and smartphones also have apps you can use to set reminders.
  • Try keeping to a regular routine and doing the most difficult things early in the day (or at the time of day you feel at your best).
  • If you forget to take medication, dosette boxes (a box with separate compartments for days of the week and times of day) or automatic pill dispensers can help. Speak to your pharmacist or GP.
  • If you find it hard to cook, you could have meals delivered to you (known as ‘meals on wheels’) or choose ready meals that are easy to cook. Some people also find online shopping helps, or having someone come in and help with preparing meals.
  • Put a note by the door to remind you to lock up at night, or to remember your keys and wallet when you go out. You can get technology to help with this, such as a device that plays a recorded reminder when you open the front door.
  • Put labels and pictures on cupboards to remind you where things are. You could keep frequently used items – cups, plates, or cutlery – on the side.
  • You can get ‘locator devices’ that help you find things you’ve misplaced. You attach a small tile to the object, and if you misplace it you can push a button that makes the tile beep.
  • If you have a smartphone, tablet or computer there are apps that can help, such as calendars. You can also programme important numbers into a phone so they’re easy to call.

If you think equipment or adaptations might help, talk to an occupational therapist. Social services or your GP can refer you to one.