Living well with dementia – Part 3: Looking after your health

We're looking at making the most of life with dementia and in this article we concentrate of the importance of keeping as healthy as possible.


We're looking at making the most of life with dementia and in this article we concentrate of the importance of keeping as healthy as possible.

Being diagnosed with dementia can be overwhelming and it’s important to give yourself time to adjust to the news. In part 3 of a series of articles looking at making the most of life with dementia, we look at the importance of keeping as healthy as possible.

It’s very easy to ignore your health and be distracted, whether you have dementia or not. One way to get the most out of your life post-diagnosis is to pay careful attention to your physical and mental health. Here are a few ways to maintain, monitor and improve your health.

Food: Try to eat a really healthy, balanced diet. Don’t skip meals. Concentrate on eating well. Weight loss is common in people with dementia and can result in speeding the progression of dementia as well as increasing the risk of other problems, including infections or falls as a result of dizziness and confusion. Family and/or carers should be encouraged to help you keep an eye on your nutrition.

Drink: Becoming dehydrated can cause health problems for people with dementia, including incontinence, constipation, tiredness, poor oral health and low blood pressure – again increasing the chances of falls. Drinking regularly and having a glass of water to hand during the day will help keep you hydrated. Tea and coffee are fine (though best to avoid them in the evening), as long as they are supplemented by water or dilute fruit juice or similar.

Exercise: This could be a daily walk or gardening, or you could try tai chi or dancing. There are also lots of indoor exercise videos online, with seated exercise options as well. Make exercise a part of your daily routine and make sure you have the clothing and equipment to hand to make it easier to get going! Exercise will help you to cope with anxiety, establish a routine and also promote better quality sleep.

Ask your GP if you would benefit from flu vaccination and pneumonia vaccination. This is especially important in the approach to winter.

Get enough sleep: Try to avoid naps during the day and caffeine and alcohol in the evening, both of which can damage your sleep patterns. Again, having a strong routine will help you, with relatively fixed bed-time and getting up time.

Depression is very common in people with dementia. Both after the initial diagnosis and later in the progression for the condition. Tackle it by talking to your GP, as there are talking treatments that can help.

Have regular dental, eyesight and hearing check-ups, which can also help to track your physical condition.

If you have additional long-term conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, regular check-ups with your GP, including reviews of the medicines you're taking, are a great idea to help you stay as fit and healthy as possible.

See your GP if you feel unwell. Chest or urine infections, in particular, can make you feel very confused if not treated promptly.

Social & Support Links

Bluebird is also involved Calderdale Dementia Friendly Community (CDFC) an organisation that wants to support groups and organisations to help make Calderdale a dementia-friendly borough. Find out more about them on their website.

You can also find local memory cafés (also known as a dementia café), on the Alzheimer's Society website – meet other people with dementia and their carers in an informal drop-in setting to share advice, tips and support

Song: Try the Singing for the Brain groups run by the Alzheimer’s Society – singing is known to improve mood and wellbeing and is also great fun

The Alzheimer's Society offers support near you and Age UK offers social activities for what's available in your area.

Read more about living well with dementia in the Alzheimer's Society's The dementia guide: Living well after your diagnosis.

Home Care

If you need more support, following your dementia diagnosis, home care can help. Living in your own home is the preferred option of many people with dementia and has obvious benefits in helping you to maintain a familiar environment and day-to-day routine. At Bluebird, we offer a full range of home care, from occasional visits, through to live-in care and respite care. Find out more on our website.