If you love someone with advancing memory loss, you know first hand the frustrations and the heartache the condition can cause. Memory loss robs people of their pasts and of the essential characteristics that have, over a lifetime, made them unique individuals, loving spouses and parents, good neighbors, tireless workers and enthusiastic participants in life.
At Regency Nursing Centers in NJ, this is a reality we deal with every single day.
Loved ones who have become caregivers of such individuals are faced with the task of trying to keep family bonds intact while coping with increasingly difficult symptoms, as well as unpredictable and often destructive behaviors. Handling these responsibilities is hard work. However, by increasing your under-standing and bolstering caregiving skills, you can help your loved one continue to live as full a life as possible while taking steps to preserve your own well-being.
Enhancing Quality of Life, One Day at a Time
As memory loss progresses, the affected person’s ability to handle even simple tasks of daily living will diminish. As a caregiver, you can reduce the impact of these changes by approaching daily routines with understanding, flexibility and creative problem solving.
Memory loss will gradually diminish a person’s ability to express their thoughts and emotions and to understand others. These difficulties may manifest themselves in several ways:
Here are some ways to encourage better communication:
Even if your loved one has ceased speaking intelligibly, it doesn’t mean he or she has lost the ability or desire to communicate. People with dementia still have things to say, we just have to relearn how to “listen”... to their facial expressions, their body language, and to their behaviors. Listen with your heart and you’ll keep bonds intact.
For the person with memory loss, well-planned and meaningful daily activities are crucial to helping maintain his or her sense of self. Remaining engaged and involved can slow down cognitive deterioration, enhance self-esteem, and give life purpose and greater quality. Activities may be as simple as brushing one’s teeth, or as creative as playing a guessing game. Coming up with effective activities may require some imagination and trial and error on your part, but the results will be well worth the effort.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
Certain activities may work better at different times of the day, so you will need to experiment to determine when your loved one is most receptive. You should also be aware that when initiating activities, your approach could mean the difference between a mutually satisfying experience and a frustrating one.
Here are a few keys to success:
Once you’ve determined what activities work best and what times of day are most conducive to their success, create a daily routine and stick to it. Repetition and structure are important to creating a secure foundation for people with memory loss. Be sure to change activities once they cease to be effective and leave some room for spontaneity.
Meals and Eating
Mealtimes can present many challenges for the at-home caregiver. A loved one may experience poor appetite, lose all interest in food, forget to eat or how to use utensils properly. Here are some ways to help:
Dressing and Grooming
Maintaining a good appearance is important to self-esteem. Yet, an individual with memory loss may be frustrated with the simple task of choosing clothes and getting dressed. Here’s how you can help facilitate these daily tasks:
In terms of grooming, maintain regular grooming routines, such as trips to the barber or beauty parlor, for as long as possible. When grooming at home, encourage use of toiletries by providing favorite brands. Demonstrate grooming techniques if your loved one seems to have forgotten how, and replace all sharp and otherwise dangerous grooming tools with those featuring safety designs.
Care Outside the Home
Although it may be clear that your parent or loved one will eventually require a higher level of care than you can provide at home, you will likely feel a natural reluctance about transferring responsibility to the hands of strangers. While understandable, you must try to put these reservations aside. Today, residential facilities are available that are ideally suited to provide the specialized, compassionate care that seniors with memory loss and other forms of dementia need and deserve. Please contact us for additional information that will help you make a loving choice for your loved one.