With 1 in 10 seniors suffering from dementia in Singapore, you are likely to know a close family member or friend with the medical condition. Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging, but when the family bands together (kids included) to provide the right support, it can make a difference and care-giving won’t seem so daunting!

Whether it is your Grandma or Grandpa who has dementia, here are three ways the whole family can pitch in to help care for your senior:

Help with everyday tasks

While many in the early stages of dementia can enjoy life as they always have, the gradual decline may mean the family needs to step in to support the person to live life as fully as they can.

The family can help Ah Kong with the everyday tasks or do it together with him:

  • Shopping: Help to stock up on groceries and necessities
  • Household chores: Sweep and mop the floor, wash dishes, set the table, polish furniture, sort socks and fold laundry
  • Cooking: Plan a dish and prepare it together
  • Exercise: Take a walk together, watch an online exercise video, do simple exercises with resistance bands or throw a soft ball to and fro, indoor bowling or skittles, taichi/qigong
  • Pets: Walk, feed, groom and hold a pet
  • Gardening: Watering, potting, planting, digging, sweeping, weeding and pruning

Help with memory loss and confusion

Nenek may experience a progressive decline in cognitive functions and experience memory loss and confusion. Many people with dementia can remember things from long ago, but not things from a few minutes ago. Sometimes, Nenek may not recognise you, but your love and understanding will be a great comfort to her.

Here’s some ways you can help to keep Nenek engaged and jog her memory:

  • Look at a family photo album
  • Listen to music that she might remember
  • Sing songs
  • Give her a hug, a kiss or stroke her arm
  • Colouring
  • Puzzles
  • Sort objects
  • Make a scrapbook of past events
  • Play games
  • Flower arrangement

Help with eating and drinking habits

Amma may also not recognise foods, refuse foods or ask for unusual food. One tip is to prepare food in smaller portions that she likes, and be prepared for changes in food tastes. Rope in Junior to lead Amma to the dining table, or help to bring her fluids in a cup that is easy to hold.

Try these tips to make mealtimes less stressful:

  • Set aside enough time for meals
  • Offer food you know they like in smaller portions
  • Try stronger flavours or sweeter foods if there is a change in food choices
  • Provide finger food if the person struggles with cutlery
  • Offer fluids in a cup that's easy to hold

Caring for a family member with dementia can be demanding and stressful. Remember to also look after your own needs and connect with dementia support groups. Finally, avoid leaving your child or young person alone in-charge, unless you are certain they can manage.