By Paula Harder, Vice President of Programs
Caring for loved ones diagnosed with memory loss can be extremely challenging. Oftentimes, we become stressed by the situation and don’t know where to turn for help or guidance. What caregivers must remember is that their health is ultimately as important as those they are looking after. That is why we have developed this simple toolkit to help you navigate the caregiving process:
- Set Attainable Goals: We are all human. Setting goals for ourselves is critical to our growth but it is important to set attainable goals. Don’t be afraid to set priorities and celebrate success even if it’s for small tasks.
- Focus on Clear Communication: Individuals with memory loss process information differently. Being clear and concise with your words and using as many specifics as possible will help to foster greater understanding between you and your loved one.
- Respond to the Feeling Behind the Behavior: All behaviors are meaningful, even the negative ones. Always take a step back to try to see the world through your loved one’s perspective instead of the direct behavior.
- Be Flexible: Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are progressive diseases which means the attitudes or your loved one will change. Adapt to those changes by altering strategies or techniques that don’t work anymore.
- Enjoy the Good Times: Participating in activities that you and your loved one enjoyed before their memory loss can help foster positive emotions. Continue those activities as much as possible in order to stimulate socialization and physical activity.
- Reminisce about the Past: Watching home movies, looking though photographs, or chatting about the past also helps stimulate brain function in those with memory loss. Sharing these memories will be beneficial to both you and them.
- Make Time for Yourself: Caregivers often succumb to depression, frustration, and exhaustion because they don’t take time out of their day for their own wellbeing. Take at least 30 minutes for yourself to do an activity that you love.
- Educate Yourself about Memory Loss: Reading about Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and/or participating in support groups helps to foster a greater understanding about the disease for caregivers. Learn as much as you can in order to prepare yourself.
- Don’t Forget to Ask for Help: Caring for loved ones with memory loss is overwhelming and you can’t do it alone. Ask friends, family members, and others for help with tasks – even if it is as simple as going to the grocery story.
Your health is an important part of the caregiver equation. After all, the care that you are able to provide is only as good as your wellbeing.
For more information about our award-winning memory care program click here. Our community teams are a valuable resource for tips on specific issues. Find the community nearest you by visiting our Communities page.