Living with and caring for a family member who has dementia can have a significant impact on family life and relationships. Families can support their relative at home in a safe and secure environment, but they need to be vigilant for signs of deterioration in mental and physical abilities and behaviour, and act quickly with appropriate changes. The inclusion of all generations in providing care at home can strengthen the family unit and increase their coping skills.
Diagnosis can be the key to good communication between the person with dementia, family and health professionals. However, dementia is often undiagnosed in its early stages, leaving people with dementia and caregivers to cope at home with unmet needs. Ideally, families should be involved in the diagnosis process.
Enabling someone with dementia to remain at home as long as possible requires modifications to improve the safety of the home, maintain functional ability and reduce the risk of falls and injury. Many people with mild-to-moderate dementia have good mobility and may only require modifications to allow them to move safely around their home, such as reducing furniture and clutter.
Guidance suggested that cognitive activities and interventions can support people with dementia with their declining memory. These include ‘face-name’ training and memory-provoking activities. An idea is to label everything and everyone in an easy-to-read way, including the contents of the fridge and kitchen cupboards, photographs with names and white boards with key contact numbers.
People with dementia gradually lose their financial capacity, affecting their ability to count money and make judgements about purchases (Marson, 2001). However, they often overestimate their abilities, while carers sometimes underestimate them. Ways of assisting autonomy have been previously documented, such as arranging with local shopkeepers to pay a weekly ‘tab’ for purchases made by the person with dementia.