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Living with Dementia

Caring for people with dementia Care strategies

Care strategies: become a Best Friend™

Whether you are caring for a family member full-time, part-time, or working in the field of dementia care, it’s important to put effective care strategies into practice for the benefit of both you and the person living with dementia.
 
The Alzheimer Society of Calgary is a proud proponent and exclusive licensee of the Best Friends Approach™ in Alberta. We advocate for positive care strategies that increase the confidence and abilities of the caregiver in addition to those of the person living with dementia. The goal is to focus on the strengths and capabilities that remain and to align care strategies with the person’s life story. This forms a meaningful experience for the person living with dementia and helps set the foundation for a strong connection and genuine relationship.

Family care strategies

Caring for someone living with dementia can present a multitude of challenges from day-to-day. Sometimes it helps to get outside perspectives or ideas, particularly if there is a unique challenge that you may be unsure of how to manage.
 
Caregiver challenges can range from repetitive questions to physical aggression in some cases. We can help you re-evaluate the situation and identify new care strategies in order to achieve and maintain good quality of life for both the person and the caregiver.
 
Creative solutions can be employed in the home. For instance, some caregivers have found that a white board reduces repetitive questions. They outline the activities of the day or other necessary information for the household – and it becomes an activity because everyone can contribute to it.
 
Join a workshop
Empowered Care is an important opportunity for full/part-time caregivers and family members  and is helpful at all stages along the journey (regardless of early, middle or late stage dementia). It’s based on the Best Friends Approach™. Topics include practical caregiving strategies, improving communication, legal and financial considerations, understanding other perspectives, creating support networks and more.
 

Best Friends™ activities

As a caregiver, here are some activities you can do with the person you care for:
  • look at old photo albums
  • listen to music
  • create art, sculptures, crafts or paint something together
  • measure or stir together ingredients
  • set the table
  • shovel the sidewalk, rake leaves or pull weeds
  • plant flowers
  • pick berries
  • visit with favourite pets or animals
  • decorate a cake
  • fold the laundry, make the bed, wipe the table after a meal
  • sweep the floor or vacuum
  • play cards
  • do a puzzle

Many people with dementia will find some of these tasks challenging, or may not be able to do them as well as they used to. Keep in mind that the outcome is not as important as the doing. Try to focus on the enjoyment of an activity, not the achievement of an outcome.
 

Professional care strategies

If you are a professional caregiver working in a dementia care capacity, you may be challenged with diverse and continuously changing needs in your workplace. We have worked closely with therapists, nurses, health care aides and more to train them in care strategies that improved both their quality of care and their satisfaction at work. 
 
The Best Friends Approach™ is an in-depth training program benefiting people who work in a dementia care capacity.