Hundreds of practical tips for living with dementia

More than 70 percent of people with dementia in Australia live at home, making practical support to enhance their independence a vital social issue, according to the authors of a new book on living well with dementia.

Dementia Centre Director Colm Cunningham and HammondCare at Home regional manager Natalie Duggan were in Brisbane on September 24 to officially launch My home, my life: Practical ideas for people with dementia and carers.

IMG 5328 min

Pictured: (Left) Colm Cunningham, Director of Dementia Centre, (Right) Natalie Duggan, Head of Region – West HammondCare At Home

Dementia advocate John Quinn and his partner Glenys Petrie spoke at the launch about the benefit of the practical tips, in fitting with the Dementia Awareness Month theme of ‘Small actions, big difference.’

The new publication contains more than 280 tips for improving quality of life, drawn from the lived experience of people with dementia and the latest in research.

“People with dementia want to live at home and to be active in their community. They also ask that their voice be heard when care and design approaches are discussed,” Associate Professor Cunningham said.

IMG 5334 min

Pictured: (Left to Right) Colm Cunningham, John Quinn, Glenys Petrie, Natalie Duggan.

My home, my life does both of those things. It is designed to be read by the person with dementia and by carers. And it also features the voice of people with dementia – through co-author Agnes Houston, as well as more than a dozen real-life stories from people across Australia.”

A/Prof Cunningham said the book did not underestimate the challenge of living at home with dementia, but provides practical tools for support such as a better understanding of the impact of dementia and ageing, tips on good design at home, strategies for going out, and approaches to supporting memory and communication.

Some of the top tips from across the book include:

  1. Focus on the person. Different kinds of dementia affect people in different ways at different times, so avoid one-size-fits-all solutions.
  2. Familiarity but with some changes. A key benefit of living at home is familiarity but most homes could benefit from some simple changes to increase independence.
  3. More light, better contrast. Many people with dementia will benefit from more light and good contrast in colors due to ageing eyes and sensory changes.
  4. Make a plan for going out. Getting outside is important so planning to go to familiar venues when they are quieter, where there are accessible toilets and wide level paths can make this a success.
  5. Declutter. Enhance independence by reducing clutter and keeping everyday items like tea, coffee and the kettle clearly visible on the bench. This principle applies to other parts of the house, such as having the clothes for the day visible in the wardrobe.

A/Prof Cunningham said people were being urged to contribute their own tips and ideas to a new online forum established to supplement the book.

If you would like to share your ideas to help others, join the conversation at myhomemylifebook.com.