With the recent portrayal of a family’s experience of dementia in the film “The Father” starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman, this guest blog is has some excellent and timely advice on coping when loved ones start experiencing memory loss.
It’s normal to occasionally forget where you kept some items such as your keys or an acquaintance’s name. Still, memory loss resulting from ageing is quite different and more frustrating. When you get the news that your parents have memory loss, it’s not only heartbreaking but frightening because you might not know how to deal with the situation.
Most of the time, symptoms develop gradually, and before your parents have full-blown dementia, spend more time together and be prepared to deal with the condition. When the time comes when you cannot fully meet their needs, consider getting assistance from home care specialists or dementia care homes. Your parents will be safer when around professionals. Before you get to this solution, here are ways to manage your lives.
Establish a Routine
A routine will make life more bearable for you and your parents. Establish regular times for meals every day. Ensure the atmosphere is calm, friendly and enjoyable to encourage your parents to eat their food because they look forward to the meal times when they are happy.
Apart from dealing with memory loss, it also gets more challenging for your parents to make choices; help by simplifying things to make their life more manageable. For instance, if you want to prepare a meal, present them with only two options making it easier to choose.
Besides the mealtime routine, you might also want to put everything where it’s supposed to be and create morning and nighttime routines.
Establish Better Communication Channels
Your parents might not be able to handle complex tasks or thoughts. Simplify communication, use short and simple explanations and always speak gently.
Have patience and give them enough time to process their thoughts and responses. Talking to your parents can be frustrating, but be patient and don’t scold or correct them harshly.
Understand that it’s also tough for them, and probably, they’re doing their best under challenging circumstances.
To make communication more accessible and meaningful, remind them of happier times. Use family photos and other helpful illustrations for jogging their memory or creating happy moments.
Take Care of Your Emotions
Take care of your emotions because they can affect your relationship. Your parents can pick your disappointment or low mood, which confuses them more. The worst part is, they might not understand or remember the cause. To help you manage your emotions, stay calm even when your parents don’t recognise or remember simple things such as your name.
Talk to your parent’s doctor or any other dementia and memory loss experts to understand how to take better care of them and yourself. It also helps not to take things personally and constantly remind yourself that it’s not your parents acting differently or having negative emotions- it’s the condition controlling them.
Additionally, check support groups in your area including the local branch of The Alzheimer’s Society, Admiral Nurses or online to share your experiences and connect with other caregivers going through the same situation.
Sometimes, your parents’ mind might be stuck in the past, making it difficult to communicate or talk about current affairs. To create harmony, protect your relationship, participate in their conversations, and encourage them to talk about anything they remember. Don’t feel guilty or disappointed if you cannot bring them back to the present.