Tips for Living Alone with Early-Stage Dementia

Pensive senior lady in wheelchair outsideThe National Institute on Aging asks, “Have you been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s diseasevascular dementiaLewy body dementia, or a frontotemporal disorder and live alone? Or, do you have mild cognitive impairment (MCI)?” If so, these tips are for you.

These tips offer ways to help you cope with changes in memory and thinking, prepare for the future, and stay active.

Make Everyday Tasks Easier

Many people with early-stage dementia continue to manage their everyday activities. But it’s important to look ahead to a time when performing daily tasks will be harder. The sooner you adopt new strategies to help you cope with changes, the more time you will have to adjust to them. Here are some tips:

    • Organizing your days. Write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar. Some people have an area, such as an entryway table or bench, where they store significant items, they need each day.
    • Paying bills. Setting up automated payments is an easy way to pay your bills correctly and on time without having to write checks. Talk with your utility providers, insurance companies, and mortgage company or leasing office about automatic bill payment. Also consider asking someone you trust to help you pay bills. That person could review your financial statements and ask you about anything unusual.
    • Shopping for meals. Many stores offer grocery delivery services. You can also order fresh or frozen meals online or by phone. Meals on Wheels America (1-888-998-6325) can deliver free or low-cost meals to your home, too, and this service sometimes includes a short visit and safety check. Other possible sources of meals include houses of worship and senior centers. If you make your own meals at home, consider easy-to-prepare items, such as foods that you can heat in the microwave.
    • Taking medications. Several products can help you manage medications. You can try a weekly pillbox, a pillbox with reminders (like an alarm), or a medication dispenser. You can buy these items at a local drugstore or online. You may need someone to help you set these up. Or try an electronic reminder system, such as an alarm you set on your phone or computer.

  • Getting around. If you drive, you may become confused, get lost, or need increasing help with directions. Talk with your doctor about these changes. Take seriously family and friends who express concerns about your driving. Some people decide to give up driving and learn how to use public transportation. For non-drivers, other forms of transportation may be available in your area, or you might want to consider a car or ride-sharing service.

Scan Your Home for Safety

Making minor changes in your home can create a safer environment. For example:

    • Get rid of unused items and extra furniture. If there are things you no longer use (such as clothing, appliances, decorations, and furniture) that are filling up your home, now is the time to remove them. Consider donating items in good condition to a charity. Some organizations will pick up from your home.
  • Remove throw rugs. Move electrical cords and other things you might trip over. Falls can cause injury and disability and make living alone hard. For more fall prevention tips, such as using handrails, read Fall-Proofing Your Home.

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