Keeping active and involved

3. Practical tips

Living with dementia doesn’t have to mean an end to all activities. Whether you are carrying out daily tasks or taking up a new activity, you may find that you need to make small changes to make it easier, safer or more comfortable for you.

The important thing is to recognise this and try to adapt, rather than give up. Some suggestions are given below.

One step at a time

Try breaking down tasks into smaller parts. For example, cooking – even something relatively simple – can be quite a complex process. Making a meal includes planning, cutting and chopping, mixing, using the cooker and timing. Think about each stage, one at a time. Can somebody help you with some of the steps? Can you make other steps simpler, for example use frozen vegetables rather than fresh?

Keep things simple

When doing an activity, keep things as simple as you need to and don’t push yourself too hard. Simplifying your routine or daily tasks will make things easier to manage. Take things at your own pace and don’t worry if some things seem difficult. Some days will be better than others – just as they are for everyone else.

Pick a good time and give yourself more time

You will enjoy something more if you can do it when you feel well. Stop if you feel tired or ill. Give yourself longer if you need to, rather than feeling rushed.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

You may find that you can’t do things as well as you did before, or that they take much longer. It may be that you need some support. It is hard to adjust to these changes but the important thing is to keep doing the activity so long as you enjoy it.

Reduce distractions

It may be easier to focus and enjoy an activity if you can give it your full attention. Try to reduce clutter and background noise or go somewhere quieter if this helps you concentrate.

Eyesight and hearing

It is essential to look after your eyesight and hearing so that you can continue enjoying your chosen activities. If you wear glasses, make sure they are the correct kind and that they are clean (see Alzheimer’s Society factsheet 527, Sight, perception and hallucinations in dementia). If you wear a hearing aid, make sure that it is working properly. Be sure to attend regular check-ups.

Speak to a professional

If you are finding some things particularly difficult, for example getting dressed, cooking, moving or getting around, then you may want to speak with a professional. An occupational therapist can assess any difficulties you have, and give you recommendations that will help you stay independent for longer (see ‘Other useful organisations’). In addition, they can advise on assistive technology tools or equipment that can make it possible to live well with dementia. For more about this see factsheet 429, Equipment, adaptations and improvements to the home.