People with dementia can often become panicked, agitated and even angry when they realise they can’t remember something or someone, especially if under pressure in-front of a crowd or friends and family, so it’s extremely important when this issue arises, to make sure you try to calm them and help them relax.
Breathing can really help someone with dementia if they start to feel anxious or stressed about memory loss at a certain moment. Sitting them down and going through some deep breathing exercises for ten minutes with them can really help – have them breathe through their nose and expand their stomach and abdomen so they take lots of oxygen deep into their lungs. By this time the conversation can move on and the stress on the person to remember something in particular has gone.
There are also techniques to practice that can help with stress and agitation on a long-term basis.
Practising mindfulness is a great way to help a person with dementia worry less when they have forgetful moments. It will help them to brush off these moments and not focus on them too much. You can read our tips on mindfulness for the elderly here and our blog on the benefits of adult colouring for people with dementia, as this is a great way to practice mindfulness.
Sensory stimulation is great for a person with dementia as it doesn’t require lots of thinking to be done and it can help calm and relax the person and make them feel less agitated. Care homes and centres for the elderly may often have sensory rooms, but if your loved-one lives at home then you can use every day items such as cushions, throws and anything with different textures for them to touch.
You could even buy or make your own twiddle mitts, which are popular with people with dementia. They are usually knitted or crocheted cuffs or hand warmers, which have different textures and materials attached, such as beads, ribbons and buttons, that people with dementia can hold and ‘twiddle’ to help any restlessness and agitation that they might experience. You can check out our knitting pattern for making your own twiddle mitt here.
Practising yoga can also be extremely beneficial for people with dementia as it not only works the body but improves the mind and body connection. It teaches breathing techniques and mindfulness too.
Lastly, having a pet is of great benefit to someone with dementia. They can help boost a person’s mood and help them feel much more relaxed. Simply having and caring for a pet helps to stimulate a person’s mind. It can help them focus on something other than memory loss and the negativity surrounding dementia. In some cases pets can even help people with memory loss interact and access memories from years ago.
Cats make fantastic pets too as they are low-maintenance. Stroking a cat can have a calming and soothing effect, decreasing stress and anxiety levels.
If it’s not possible for the person with dementia to have a pet full time, then having someone who owns an animal pop in with it on a regular basis can also really help.