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Living Alone with Dementia: How to Retain Your Independence

Has a recent dementia diagnosis left you wondering what the future might hold regarding living independently?


If you are someone who has always enjoyed their independence it can be worrying to imagine a time when being able to do everything for yourself no longer comes as easily. However, the good news is that, with just a few adaptions to your daily life and changes around your home, you can help yourself to live independently and comfortably for as long as possible.


At Dementia Support, we are committed to enabling people to live well with dementia and that includes helping people to retain their independence following a diagnosis. In this blog we have put together a few suggestions of ways in which you can give yourself the best chance to live comfortably and safely with dementia while remaining independent.


Forward planning with dementia

There are several steps which you can take to plan for the future and ensure your wishes are met. Consider doing the following:


Make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) - this is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to.


Make a Will – this is necessary to ensure that your wishes are met. You can get help and advice on how it’s done in our Guide to Making a Will.


Make an Advance Directive and a “My Wishes/ Care Plan” this will outline what is important to you and what you would like your future care to look like when you are unable to communicate this yourself.


When it comes to paying bills, try to keep things as simple as possible. If you haven’t done so already, then perhaps consider getting your bills paid by direct debit, this way it’s less likely that you will miss a payment. Speak to your bank about authorisation for a second person on the account and ask the bank about carers cards and other options to simplify future banking.


Inform the DVLA about your dementia diagnosis. While you may be able to continue to drive now it is also useful to look at alternatives such as bus routes or taxi options before you need them so they are already familiar.


Make adaptations around your home

By making some simple changes to your home environment, you can prevent problems from occurring further down the line. Try the following:

  1. Look at the different rooms in your house and assess whether there are any safety hazards which may cause trips or falls, such as uneven floorboards, clutter which is lying around or unsecured pieces of carpet or rugs. If there are any, make sure that they do not continue to pose a problem.

  2. Check all appliances are working safely and test out your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on a monthly basis. Request a Safe & Well visit from your local Fire Service – if you are unsure, you can ask a Wayfinder to signpost you to getting one done.

  3. Try to keep things which you use regularly, such as your keys and wallet, in the same place and where they can easily be seen.

  4. Consider employing someone who can help with jobs around the home. Introducing someone early helps them to get to know how you like things done and assist you to live independently. If you feel you need additional support, you can request a care needs assessment from Adult Social Care Services who will look at your needs and create a care plan.


Memory Aids and Technology

Thanks to developments in modern technology, there is a multitude of tools available to enable people living with dementia to live independently for as long as possible.

  1. Try to follow a simplified version of your routine and stick to it daily. Make use of calendars, whiteboards or technology and set daily reminders and alarms. Smart phones and tablet devices have a range of apps that can be helpful.

  2. If you are taking any type of medication, then you can purchase special medication boxes which clearly show the dates and times of when the medication is to be taken. You can either request a blister pack from the pharmacy (these include compartments for each day / time for taking pills which are pre-distributed into correct segments by the pharmacist), or you can purchase automated pill dispensers. Set alarms as a reminder when medication is needed.

  3. Look into sourcing some easy-to-use technology in your daily life. This may include general independent living aids and assistive technology, such as voice activated technology and simplified devices designed for accessibility. Include daily living aids such as clocks which display day and date as well as time of day, reminder devices, simple pre-programmable telephones or easy to use TV remote controls and one button radios.

  4. Consider wearable GPS tracker devices which enable people to continue to go out safely and independently. If you were to become lost it is possible to press an SOS which connects to a carer’s smart phone. These devices also usually incorporate a falls sensor.

  5. Look into the services provided by Telecare. They can install a range of movement sensors around the home, which trigger an alarm after certain incidents (e.g a fall detected or leaving a room) which alert a call centre.


Keep your brain and body stimulated

The longer that you can keep active, both physically and mentally, the better. This is because cognitive stimulation is thought to slow down of the onset of dementia and the effects it has on your brain, while physical activity can bring a whole host of benefits to your health and wellbeing.


Stay social - Try to keep your brain active by keeping in touch with friends and family regularly. Continue to do the hobbies that you enjoy, even if it does mean doing them at a slower pace and do what you can for as long as you can. You could also consider volunteering or new hobbies which you can start.


If you are someone who likes to go on holiday, then perhaps consider some of the specialist companies which do dementia friendly holidays. Think about whether you want to go somewhere that’s familiar, or whether you would like to try somewhere new.


Keep your mind active – stay up to date with current affairs and do puzzles which engage the mind. In addition, you may wish to join support groups, such as the Cognitive Stimulation Therapy sessions which we hold at Sage House in Tangmere. Please note that you will need a referral from a Wayfinder to join the group.


Get Physical - Stay active, either go for walks, look for local exercise programmes you can follow. Even if your mobility is reduced there are many seated exercise classes you can try.


Whatever it is you choose to do, remember there are always positive steps which you can take to help yourself live well with dementia. For further help or advice, get in touch with a member of our Wayfinding team today.


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