ARTICLES / General /
Surviving Caregiving... /
By Barbara Hanson Dennis
6. Exercise: This
may sound like a nearly impossible thing to do if
you are a 24/7 caregiver, but it is not. It is
really on a par with being in a support group.
Physical exercise is very important for anyone with
dementia and their caregivers because it helps with
depression, stress and overall health. There are
several ways to do this. One possibility is to
take your loved one with you as long as she or he
can walk. Another option is to leave him/her doing
some activity for the duration of your walk or other
exercise. Finally, ask a family member, friend
or agency person to stay while you exercise.
7. Planning: Time
to plan ahead may vary with the extent to which the
dementia has progressed when the diagnosis is given.
Contact an Elder Care Attorney and have him or her
help prepare all the Advance Directives one needs.
This includes Power of Attorney, Living Will,
Healthcare Power of Attorney and a regular Will.
You may also want a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form.
8. Meaningful Activities:
While this may seem like an improbable
recommendation for a person with dementia, it was
definitely my experience that non-pharmacological
activities were a key to a slower progression of the
disease in my husband and others with dementia.
Just as we are given suggestions for activities to
“prevent” dementia, I strongly believe that
activities can keep those already diagnosed from
going downhill faster. It does not have to be huge.
For Les, one year it was helping to propagate
poinsettias over a year for the Christmas show at a
Chicago conservatory and then taking people there to
see them all. Other years, it was going to
various nearby attractions with a caregiver willing
to take him places to keep him seeing new things and