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.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio