Alzheimer's and other dementias: Making the most of remaining abilities

A person who is aware of losing some mental and functional abilities may be depressed or frightened and may feel like a burden to those who take care of him or her. Helping the person stay active and involved may make it easier for both of you. Take advantage of the person's remaining abilities for as long as possible.

  • For as long as he or she is able, allow the person to make decisions about activities, food, clothing, and other choices.
  • Reinforce and support the person's efforts to remain independent, even if tasks take more time or aren't done perfectly.
  • Tailor tasks to the person's abilities. For example, if cooking is no longer safe, ask for help in setting the table, making simple dishes such as salad, or shopping.
  • When the person needs help, offer it gently and discreetly to protect his or her self-esteem.

It is important to give a person with dementia tasks and activities that occupy him or her without pushing too much.

Last Updated: November 10, 2008

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