Use Visual Cues to Help Someone With Early Dementia Maintain Independence

Visual prompts can help those with early mild-stage dementia remember how to perform basic tasks longer. Although tooth brushing, making breakfast, or getting dressed may seem incredibly simple, they actually involve complicated sequences of steps. It's not a matter of "forgetting" how to brush teeth; it's more that the brain gets stuck organizing and carrying out the steps.

Here are three examples of using visual cues:

1. Brushing teeth -- Have the toothbrush, toothpaste, a cup for water, and floss all laid out at the outset, on the counter. Eventually it may be helpful to apply the toothpaste to the brush.

2. Getting dressed -- Put out all of the clothes that will be worn in one place, rather than leaving your loved one to fish socks, belt, and so on out of closets and drawers.

3. Leaving the house -- Check the weather; if an umbrella, warm jacket, or sunglasses will be needed, leave them in a conspicuous place by the door. Place house keys or any other needed items in the same place. Your loved one won't have to go around remembering the pieces if they're all waiting there.

SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You


over 3 years ago, said...

At this point, I do not have to do these things for my husband; just remind him to change his clothes, brush teeth, shower, etc, but it is a reminder of what might be down the road.


over 3 years ago, said...

We used special visual clues to help my mother in law that went beyond reminder notes (those got to a point where they didn't work, she'd read them, set them down and forget what they said). We had a huge desk calendar, the kind teachers use, hung on a wall by the kitchen table. We marked appointments, birthdays and special events on it. We x'd out each day as it passed to try and keep her current with the day and date. There was a dry erase board by her phone with a short list of each of our phone numbers and 911 for emergency. We put color coded dots (vinyl stickers) on her microwave oven buttons - red for stop; green for that one minute heat coffee button; yellow for popcorn. We could call at lunchtime and tell her to get her frozen mobile meal out of the fridge, put it in the microwave, push the green button twice and stay on the phone with her to remind her to get the meal out to eat. Call again in the late afternoon for a snack of popcorn, in the morning for a cup of coffee. We used a similar color code for her TV remote red for off; green for on; then colors for her favorite three channels. There were 3x5 cards that we taped on her kitchen cupboards that told what was inside - cups; dishes; peanut butter and crackers; coffee and sugar; silverware - the things she needed to use the most. We unplugged her stove and put a note that said it was Out Of Order. In her bathroom we had a card on her linen door that noted towels, washcloths inside; on the medicine cabinet it noted that toothbrush, paste, deodorant; on her closet and dresser drawers we listed the types of clothes that were inside. For breakfast her daughter would put cereal in a bowl, a banana next to it with the spoon, and a note that said, "Don't forget the milk, it's in the fridge." These cues carried on when she went to a skilled nursing facility, we labelled everything there too. It turned out the most important sign was the one that went on the bathroom door which was across the room next to her roommates bed and was always closed. She never remembered where it was, but would look up and look at it for a while, ask if that was the bathroom, and then ask for help getting to it. She also got to the point where she needed us to place a spoon or fork in her hand and sometimes help her begin to scoop her food to get her body to remember the act of eating. This is in the later stage, and her tendency was more to shove the food around instead of bringing it to her mouth. You may have to put your hand over hers and help her with the act of eating to jump start the function so she can do it herself each time. It's so much better if the person can do daily life actions themselves in order to maintain dignity and for you to keep respect and continue to view the person as your elder or spouse. At first it's done with small cues, but as time goes on you'll have to become more creative and use more clever ideas to help their brain remember how to get their body to function while having a sense of pride. It's worth the trouble, for them and you.


almost 4 years ago, said...

I have a Post-it Note hung on Mom's bathroom mirror to remind her what time my sister will be picking her up for church and an overview sheet on when to take her meds, use her nose spray, etc.. I hand out her meds throughout the day at specified times, but she knows what's going on, and I'm not just "telling her what to do" and "take these pills" and I believe it helps her to feel more in control of herself and not so dependent. I typed it up as "a reminder for me" so she didn't feel any intrusion on her dignity.


almost 5 years ago, said...

I appreiate the helpful tips I receive from you'all. I have to keep reminding my husband to do his exercises. His neurologist tod us that he would regress if he did not keep them up. He dislikes doing exercises. so, refused to do them. He began to realizing he was regressing. I am happy he is doing them again. I hope someday maybe I could be a wife again instead of a nursemaid. Love you all. Allyoop


almost 5 years ago, said...

These ideas struck me as very obvious. By the title, I had hoped for something with more creative detail, ie gestures or sign language shortcuts that. Kyle eliminate verbal demands when the caregiver is stressed (in other words to keep the situation calm and moving forward).


almost 5 years ago, said...

I've been doing this for years already.


almost 5 years ago, said...

These are so easy!


almost 5 years ago, said...

reminders of visual aids to help patient.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Perfect.....Yehhhhhh