I know that dementia is making it harder for me to manage. I mean, if I forget to take my heart medication or I take it twice, I can be in real trouble. As things get worse, what does my future look like? What can I do now that will help later?
Professor Susan Kurrle
Well, when a diagnosis of dementia's made, you want to keep living life as normally as possible. However, there's a number of things you can do to improve safety.
For instance, around the house. Removing any trip hazards, making sure lighting is good, making sure there are rails in the bathroom because balance can be impaired in dementia.
There are a number of things around exercising, and certainly exercise improves balance and reduces the risk of falls. Good eating is really important, and regular eating every day. Ensuring good protein intake is certainly important.
Getting a good routine in terms of personal hygiene. Reminding them to regularly clean their teeth, and making it a routine to have a shower on a daily or a second daily basis is very important.
In terms of medications, it's very important that the GP looks at every medication that the person with dementia's taking and balances the risks and benefits. A number of medications may make memory worse, particularly those that help with bladder function. So it's important to balance up the side effects of those with the negative effects.
So it's important to balance up the side effects of those with the negative effects on the person's memory. There needs to be arrangements put in place for how the person takes the medication. Should the medication be in a prepared Webster-pak or perhaps in a Dosette box? And you still need someone to remind them to take it on a daily basis.
Once you've got a diagnosis of dementia, it's really important to manage other illnesses that you might have as well as possible. Because that means your dementia is likely to progress more slowly, and you're likely to remain more healthy. So medication's an important part of that. And ensuring the medication you take is necessary and does not have any side effects is something your GP and your pharmacist can do.
In dementia, you often see a decrease in appetite. This is usually related to loss of the sense of taste and loss of the sense of smell. And also people simply forget to eat or no longer know how to prepare a sandwich or make a cup of coffee. So eating properly is really important, and sometimes prepared meals are a good way to deal with this. It's also important to remember to keep well hydrated, and drinking plenty of water is a good way to do this.
Last reviewed: January 2016