Watching a senior loved one struggle with memory loss is universally considered to be one of life’s most difficult experiences. As you watch your parent, spouse, or sibling forget things like how to operate appliances or what their loved ones’ names are, it’s easy to feel heartbroken, helpless, or both. Luckily, you’re not alone. Millions of others either have gone through or are currently dealing with similar struggles. To help you through this difficult time, Careage has compiled a list of ways you can cope with a loved one’s memory loss.
You can easily find books, articles, and studies that talk about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of memory loss. One good resource is the National Institute on Aging, which details signs, symptoms, and treatments for memory loss disorders as well as tips for caregivers. Knowing what exactly you’re dealing with can help you better care for and interact with your loved one. For example, you may be aware of the well-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss, but you might be surprised to learn that it can cause hallucinations and paranoia as well. Being familiar with your loved one’s illness will help you from getting caught off guard.
Act as a Guide
While your loved one may have lucid days where they remember more than usual, you should always be caring for them under the assumption that they don’t remember certain things. It’s also possible that your loved one might not let you know that they’ve forgotten something, answering “Yes” to questions like “Do you know who this is?” Instead, guide your loved one through daily life by creating and sticking to a written routine and gently reminding them about the names of friends and family before visits.
People dealing with memory loss can become aggressive or defensive when reminded that they’ve forgotten something, or can become frustrated when they aren’t able to get you to understand something. Aggressive behavior is common among Alzheimer’s patients, so it’s important that you learn how to respond to it accordingly. If your loved one insists you didn’t tell them something when you know you did, it might be best to let the issue go instead of trying to convince them otherwise. Similarly, try not to give into your frustration when you have to repeat instructions multiple times.
Don’t Go at it Alone
Even if you’re your loved one’s primary caregiver, you shouldn’t be expected to shoulder all the responsibilities of caring for someone with memory loss. Reach out to other family members for help with caregiving, and work together to create a schedule that provides you with some time off. You may also want to join a support group for family members of seniors suffering from memory issues to air out your worries to people who understand what you’re going through.
There’s nothing easy about caring for a loved one with memory loss, but hopefully these tips can make the challenge somewhat less daunting. For more information about providing care to senior loved ones, visit Careage’s Memory Care page.