Caring for a loved one with memory loss can be challenging. From negative symptoms and changing needs to misunderstandings and everything in between, some days can feel like you’re failing as a caregiver. While these feelings may seem true – they are not. In fact, you’re doing selfless work, ensuring your loved one is as happy and healthy as possible, and well cared for.
This role is fraught with successes and difficulties, no matter whether you’re a seasoned family caregiver or are just getting started. The good news is that despite these challenges, there are still a number of ways you can help support your loved one on their journey.
Supporting Your Loved One with Memory Loss
Persons with dementia may need day-to-day support physically and emotionally. As dementia progresses, these needs will increase. If you’re caring for someone with memory loss, knowing how to support them will be essential. We’re here to help dementia caregivers with expert tips and ideas.
Before considering any of these ideas, it’s important to note that this disease affects everyone differently, so some of these tactics may or may not work for you and your loved one. Make sure to evaluate this so you are providing them with the personalized support they need.
Learn as much as possible about the disease.
There are many different types of dementia, so you should find out as much as possible about your loved one’s specific form. From symptoms and common behaviors to what you can expect and how the disease might progress, there is often plenty of information available online or through local resources.
Some other things you can do include:
- Scheduling visits with their doctor to address questions and concerns.
- Seeking expert help and information from those who deal with the disease up close and personal each day.
- Talk with other caregivers with similar experiences. Many times they’ll be able to share some information about what they’ve faced.
Use best practices when caregiving.
Many doctors and caregivers will share their best practices for caring for a loved one with memory loss while helping you better understand the disease and reducing their challenging symptoms. Take a look at some of these ideas shared by WebMD.
- Give them choices.
- Be patient and allow plenty of time to accomplish tasks.
- Do more complex activities at their best time of day.
- Provide plenty of encouragement.
Evaluate the reasons behind their negative behaviors.
Many people with memory loss can be deeply impacted by changes in routine, unmet needs, and a lack of engaging activities or physical exercise.
If you’re finding your loved one’s negative behaviors aren’t decreasing no matter what you do, evaluate whether they are overwhelmed or overstimulated; consider if they are hungry, tired or in pain; or offer a fun activity to do. It can also help to go for a walk, redirect their attention, or simply take a quick break if it’s safe to do so.
It’s possible your loved one may be afraid or may be misunderstanding you as well, so be sure to remain calm, use a reassuring voice, and let them know you love them and are there for them.
Keep your loved one’s attention by removing distractions such as the radio or TV, using touch to communicate, and moving somewhere quieter if you’re in public. This can help both you and your loved one focus more and better connect.
When talking with your loved one, make sure you give them plenty of time to speak, and remember to refrain from interrupting or correcting them whenever possible.
Spend meaningful time together.
Think about some of the things you used to do with your loved one with dementia and consider writing them down. Then, find ways to adapt these items so you can continue to connect and engage.
If you used to love to have movie nights together, consider a movie matinee before lunch. Instead of popcorn and candy, think back to what your loved one may have eaten at a drive-in movie theater. Perhaps a hot dog, a burger and fries, or a milkshake would be perfect for them to enjoy.
If your loved one might not love this idea, consider reminiscing about what their favorite movie is, where they may have seen it the first time, or what their favorite movie theater candy was.
These ideas can be done with many different kinds of activities; the key is making it something your loved one will enjoy.
Getting Support for You
Remember that caring for people with dementia can come with an emotional toll for you as well. Caregiving can be isolating, as well as physically and emotionally taxing.
To prevent caregiver stress and burnout, it’s important to find support for you. Fortunately, there are many options. Some of these include:
- Creating a care team of friends and family members, teaming up with your spouse, or partnering with medical professionals to provide the best care.
- Finding ways for those who are farther away to help out, especially with items that can be done online, according to the National Institute on Aging.
- Allowing your support system to care for your loved one, helping you take some time for yourself or helping you spend time with family.
- Assigning certain people to do simple tasks like picking up prescriptions or groceries.
- Joining support groups and educational events, like those at our Bridges® by EPOCH communities.
- Finding expert resources and doing research, reading blogs, or listening to podcasts.
- Considering a dedicated memory care community, where you know your loved one’s long-term care needs will be met in a caring, engaging environment, with care plans tailored just to them.
Emotionally Supporting Caregivers and Their Loved Ones
If you’re caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, we’re here to help support you, whether you need us in the beginning stages of the disease or the later stages. With expert experience, dedicated support, and a caring hand, you can receive the assistance you need as you and your loved one face this journey together.
To join us for an upcoming support group or to schedule a visit to learn more about our memory care assisted living communities, contact the community nearest you.
Enhancing Quality of Life
Bridges® by EPOCH memory care communities have been developed from the ground up to anticipate, meet and exceed the needs of our residents and their families. Our team of remarkable people, the exceptional care and services we offer, and the purposeful design of our buildings all combine to create the most rewarding, secure and nurturing lifestyle possible for our residents.
Bridges® by EPOCH communities are located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in the following towns: Norwalk, CT; Stamford, CT; Trumbull, CT; Andover, MA; Hingham, MA; Lexington, MA; Mashpee, MA; Pembroke, MA; Sudbury, MA; Westford, MA; Westwood, MA; and Nashua, NH.