Cognitive and Mood Change Management

How can I help my loved one compensate for cognitive losses?

Studies show us that routine, ritual, symbols and simple patterns offer support and wellbeing. In dealing with advancing physical and cognitive decline, developing and sticking to simple routines performed consistently day after day, will offer comfort, structure, and safety, and will ease the cognitive burden for both you and your loved one.

  • Use a large calendar to write routines and appointments.
  • Bring to the living space family photos, a clock, a calendar and seasonal or significant visual displays.
  • Limit sensory stimuli. Have a one-at-a-time rule. Limit to one, the sound of TV or radio or conversation.
  • Use music or smells to trigger happy memories, such as playing a favourite radio station or baking fresh breads.
  • Maintain a simple, clutter-free environment. Find a place outside your loved one’s room to store containers of continence products, catheters, and bed pads. Do not allow stuff to clutter the room.
  • Explore voice activated computers to maintain calendars and lists, such as lists of topics to go over when visiting the neurologist.
  • Use recording devices, such as smartphones and tablets, for recording important conversations, creating verbal reminders, etc.
  • If your loved one is able, initiate conversations about political and social events. Allow sufficient time for thoughts to process.
  • Encourage expression of opinions and thoughts by discussing a news or current event story. Read a book or newspaper aloud. Listen to audiobooks.
  • Change the environment. Get outside in the sunshine whenever possible.
  • Help your loved one write a daily “to-do” list and prioritise the items. However, certain activities of daily living should not be negotiable, such as getting out of bed (if possible) every morning, washing, eating, toileting, range of motion exercises, drinking several glasses of fluid, taking medications, and getting outside.
  • If your loved one is able to use a smartphone or tablet, there are various apps that may help improve cognitive functioning.

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