Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

Symptoms and progression are different for everyone with Lewy body dementia. Caregivers may need to adapt the following tips to individual situations:

  • Speak clearly and simply. Maintain eye contact and speak slowly, in simple sentences, and don't rush the response. Present only one idea or instruction at a time. Use gestures and cues, such as pointing to objects.
  • Encourage exercise. Benefits of exercise include improvements in physical function, behavior and depression symptoms. Some research shows exercise may slow cognitive decline in people with dementia.
  • Provide mind stimulation. Participating in games, crossword puzzles and other activities that involve using thinking skills may help slow mental decline in people with dementia.
  • Establish a nighttime ritual. Behavior issues may worsen at night. Create calming bedtime rituals without the distraction of television, meal cleanup and active family members. Leave night lights on to prevent disorientation.

Limiting caffeine during the day, discouraging daytime napping and offering opportunities for daytime exercise may help prevent nighttime restlessness.

Coping and support

People with Lewy body dementia often experience a mixture of emotions, such as confusion, frustration, anger, fear, uncertainty, grief and depression.

Offer support by listening, reassuring the person that he or she still can enjoy life, being positive, and doing your best to help the person retain dignity and self-respect.

If you're a caregiver for someone with Lewy body dementia, watch the person closely to make sure he or she doesn't fall, lose consciousness or react negatively to medications. Provide reassurance during times of confusion, delusions or hallucinations.

Looking after yourself

The physical and emotional demands of caregiving can be exhausting. You may experience anger, guilt, frustration, discouragement, worry, grief or social isolation. Help prevent caregiver burnout by:

  • Asking friends or other family members for help when you need it. Consider in-home health services to help you care for the person with Lewy body dementia.
  • Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
  • Learning as much about the disease as you can. Ask questions of doctors, social workers and others on the care team.
  • Joining a support group.

Many people with Lewy body dementia and their families can benefit from counseling or local support groups. Contact your local agencies on health or aging to get connected with support groups, doctors, resources, referrals, home care agencies, supervised living facilities, a telephone help line and educational seminars.

April 19, 2016
References
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