Approaching the Subject of Dementia with your Loved One
When you think that a loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease, you may feel a variety of emotions such as shock, sadness, and fear of the unknown. You may also be hesitant to talk to your loved one about the diagnosis and not sure where to start. However, it is essential to stay positive and show support to help them feel safe and comfortable. Many people who are diagnosed with dementia and memory loss will sometimes feel stressed or anxious as they struggle to understand their new diagnosis. Address the subject delicately and be there to help guide your loved one as they learn to navigate the nuances of cognitive treatments and day-to-day adjustments to their routine. At Harmony Senior Services, we realize how difficult it can be to start the conversation of dementia care and everything that comes after. Our care team has gathered a few tips on how to start the conversation and support your loved one!
Take the time to learn about Dementia
Before approaching your loved one, it is a good idea to learn more about the diagnosis and have an understanding of how dementia works. Dementia can cause changes in their mood, behavior, and cognitive function. By researching and learning more on the condition, you will have better guidance on how to approach the specific situation of your family member or close friend. Being better informed will also help you cope with the changes when learning more about dementia, the treatment plans available, and the resources that best suit your needs. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great resource for any questions or concerns that arise. The Alzheimer’s Association hosts events such as The Walk to End Alzheimer’s to help spread awareness of the disease as well as Alzheimer’s Support Groups which provide much needed allies and local resources in your community.
Be patient and understanding
Individuals adjusting to the cognitive impact of dementia and other memory loss diseases will often present signs of confusion, disorientation, frustration, and a change in personality. When interacting with your loved one during these changes, demonstrate consistent and patient reactions that allow them to communicate without feeling isolated. Maintaining an open flow of communication is an effective way to offer support through the frustration of memory loss symptoms. It is also important to be cognizant of the fact that dementia impacts physical competencies as well as mental and emotional. It is common to see fine motor skills decline, such as tying one’s shoes or using dining utensils. Above all, it is essential to let your loved one know you understand the burden of what they’re experiencing and that they have your support to help them through.
Create a Positive Space
The space you create with your loved one on the topic of dementia can make a difference in how they react to their new diagnosis. Setting and maintaining a positive tone can help your loved one feel more relaxed, confident, and safe to discuss the hard questions that come with dementia and memory loss. Be open to their emotions and reassure your loved one by letting them know you are there to assist them in finding the best resources and care available. Consider introducing the living option of a Memory Care Community as a positive environment to receive the necessary care and support available near you.
Participate in the usual activities together
Let your loved ones know that they can still do the things they love to do! Giving them the opportunity to enjoy the activities they’ve always participated in will help maintain their memory function while also putting them more at ease. Keeping up pre-existing routines is an active way to offer emotional encouragement and cognitive support. Incorporating familiar music has proven to be an effective way to keep individuals with memory loss more engaged and communicative. Having your loved one involved in usual activities and familiar routines can help them reconnect with memories while keeping your communication and relationship moving forward!
Know when it’s time to get professional help
The subject of dementia and Alzheimer’s is intimidating and can create a barrier between friends, family members, and the care that is needed. If you find yourself struggling to care for your loved one, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Being the primary caregiver for a loved one impacts both sides of the relationship. It is important to remember to care for yourself so you can be the best version of yourself for the people that need you. Care options such as Assisted Living and Memory Care give your loved one a safe and secure space to call home while also receiving 24/7 care. At Harmony Senior Services, we provide specialized memory care through our Signature Memory Care Program - Harmony Reflections which features all of the best elements of home partnered with compassionate caregivers.
To learn more about our Memory Care Program, contact us today!