Dementia Solutions: Needing some alone time
How Do I Stop My Husband, Who Has Dementia, From Following Me Around the House All The Time?
Whether I’m washing dishes in the kitchen, going to the bedroom to put away my clothes, or simply walking over to turn on the TV, my husband follows me everywhere I go. I know the constant tagging along is a symptom of his dementia, but it can be unnerving. What can I do?”
Feeling frustrated, annoyed and unsettled are all natural responses to being constantly followed around by someone, even if it’s by someone we love.
With a condition like dementia, your husband may be feeling unsure of what he should be doing. Create visual schedules with a whiteboard or calendar to provide structure to his day and help ease his anxiety. Give him a sense of purpose by asking for help with tasks such as folding laundry or sweeping, even if he can’t complete these chores perfectly.
Creating a “busy box,” filled with items such as puzzles, magazines, newspapers, a deck of cards, pens etc. and prompting him to choose an activity from the box, is another strategy for keeping him busy and giving him something to do. You can also use the “box” as a cognitive exercise by playing a game with him of trying to match different items together based on a theme. Exercise videos that help him stay active could also be effective.
Whatever activity you choose set them up in an area where your husband can see you regularly. This will provide him with assurance that you’re still there, without him having to follow you. Provide added assurance by calling out to him from another room before he gets up to look for you by saying “Honey, just so you know, I’m still here…I’ll be out shortly.”
Anxiety and boredom may be triggering your husband’s behaviour, but it may also be resulting from a need to interact with you. Following you around may be his way of trying to connect. Take the time to listen to him to see if he’s trying to tell you something. Think of creative activities you can do together as a way of spending quality time with each other. Adult colouring books are a great example of a calming activity that can also stimulate interesting conversation.
Remember, you don’t have to shoulder all of this on your own – you can reach out to family members or friends or even hire a caregiver for your husband who can help in keeping him busy and giving you a much-deserved break.
If you need extra help, we are here for you. Our caregivers are trained and certified to care for individuals with dementia. If you need further details, please:
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this column are provided for information purposes only. They are not intended to replace clinical diagnosis or medical advice from a health professional. For any health related issue, always seek medical advice first from a trained medical professional.