If you have a loved one who is experiencing memory loss, it can be difficult to know how to deal with these changes. Unfortunately, memory loss affects many areas of the patients life and their daily functionality. This makes it challenging for their loved ones to step into the role of caregiver. However, there are several ways to make the transition from family member to caregiver much easier.
1. Regular Health Screenings For Both The Patient And You
It may seem obvious to state that you should have the loved one you are caring for regularly checked by a physician but it is important. There are many different reasons why a person is experiencing memory loss and it is critical to know which is causing the symptoms in your loved one. The progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia can be quite similar or they can be quite variable. Knowing what you are dealing with can help you and the physician develop a plan of care.
It may be less obvious that you should also have your own health checked regularly but the truth is that it becomes very easy to prioritize your own needs when you are caring for someone else. Even though it may not seem like a pressing issue, it is important to know your own health status while caring for someone else. The stress can lead to a number of physiological problems that can usually be easily controlled but you have to know about them first. In addition to regularly visiting with your physicians, you should take self care measures to maintain your own mental and physical health. That means making the time to exercise and do things that you enjoy because stress will deplete your immune system and overall health.
2. Know What Dementia Symptoms Are And How To Deal With Them
Dementia and similar neurodegenerative diseases include several symptoms that make it difficult to be close the patient. These symptoms often include aggression, communication difficulties, and general confusion. It can be very disheartening when you are putting time and energy into caring for a loved one and then have them be angry with you. However, it is vital to remember that they are not usually actually angry with you. They are in an almost constant state of confusion that makes it difficult for them to understand what is going on around them. You may tell them to eat a dinner you prepared and they may be confused because they genuinely believe they just ate when that isn’t the case. They aren’t intentionally lying but instead have their memories mixed up. On top of that, they frequently experience difficulty trying to communicate, which means that when they have thoughts, they are failing to find a way to express them and that can get frustrating as well. Try to use short and clear sentences when communicating with them and if they are aggressive, you may find that playing music that they used to enjoy will still calm them down.
3. Don’t Try To Do It Alone
You are doing great planning meals, being present, and ensuring your loved ones safety. However, you can’t and shouldn’t do so alone forever. You have needs of your own and there are community resources and family members who can help. Allow them to make some of the meals or relieve you for a few hours at a time. You will likely find that far more help is available than you thought and it will improve your health drastically.