About 16 million people in the US alone care for someone with Alzheimer’s. While this journey of caring for a loved one can be rewarding, there’s no doubt that it can also be overwhelming, draining, and emotionally challenging.
From ensuring the safety of the patient to making reasonable accommodations for them at home, managing a loved one’s Alzheimer’s is difficult. However, the hardest part of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is to watch their cognitive abilities decline with time.
Unlike routine forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s related memory loss is the start of losing everything, including YOUR LOVED ONES!
Alzheimer’s and Forgetfulness
It is very common in the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s disease for people to lose the ability to remember and recognize the people around them. This includes not being able to recognize caregivers, friends, family, and even someone as close as a spouse.
Sometimes, the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s is limited to the inability to recall the name of the person or the exact relationship. Whereas sometimes, it is as severe as repelling a loved one due to failure to recognize them at all.
Frequent incidences of Alzheimer’s related cognitive decline include a wife accidentally calling her son by her husband’s name or considering a nurse caregiver her daughter. A father might point to the picture of his daughter with affection but not be able to tell you what her name is.
However, when Alzheimer’s progresses, memory loss gets coupled with anxiety, agitation, paranoia, delusions, and combativeness. In almost every case, though, coping with forgetfulness in Alzheimer’s disease is critical to maintaining relationships.
It is heartbreaking that some caregivers have also experienced their loved one yelling at them to leave their house. Some have also experienced the patient screaming and hitting them as they don’t recognize them anymore.
Well, that’s where the need to understand how to cope up with a loved one’s Alzheimer’s comes into play. Coping with forgetfulness in Alzheimer’s disease is critical to maintaining relationships.
Here’s what we think you should consider:
Coping With A Loved One’s Alzheimer’s
Every caregiver may react to their loved one’s Alzheimer’s differently. They may have challenges coping up, which can be specific to their own as well as the patient’s personality. Since every patient and every relationship is different, memory care experts suggest everyone understand the effects of the disease on the patient. After having followed the impact, researchers suggest finding ways to stay close and connected to patients to keep relationships strengthened.
To heal what Alzheimer’s and related memory loss wounds, here are a few emotional strategies that friends, family members, and caregivers can try:
Grieve If Needed:
Some family members may struggle with denial, holding onto the hope that their loved one will somehow get better and begin acting like their self again. Denial is usually a defense against painful feelings of loss. However, acknowledging the loss of a cherished relationship and allowing time to grieve fully can enable family members to accept their present circumstances. It can additionally help them find new ways to connect to their loved one.
Hold on toLong-Term Connections:
One way to cope with the pain of your loved one’s disease is to hold on to important memories that are significant to the relationship. Remembering who the person was before their Alzheimer’s can help families connect and care for them as the disease progresses.
Remember the Significance of the Relationship
Remembering the influence that the person with Alzheimer’s has had can offer great comfort to family members. Often, we look to our parents, grandparents, or spouse as individuals who have helped make us who we are today. Approaching a loved one with this in mind can keep a family member’s mind focused on gratitude rather than loss. This can also allow them the emotional peace they need to continue to connect with their loved one.
A thoroughly tried and tested way of coping with forgetfulness in Alzheimer’s disease is to express love. That too, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Although putting aside painful emotions isn’t easy, science suggests that expressing love can have a physical effect on the people around us. Research shows that positive emotions, such as compassion, joy, and love, produce smooth rhythms in our hearts, which leads to stress-reducing hormones.
Moreover, these rhythms strengthen the immune system, help the brain function better, and aid in thought process improvement. Negative feelings of stress, anxiety, and despair cause jagged heart rhythms.
The truth is, love is what keeps us going. When memory loss takes a toll on our bonds of love, it becomes immensely important to take necessary action. In the case of people dealing with Alzheimer’s, this action is in the form of education and awareness. The awareness regarding what Alzheimer’s may bring is critical to promote your loved one’s happiness and health just by understanding emotions and managing reactions.
So be patient. Understand methods of coping with forgetfulness in Alzheimer’s disease and do not let forgetfulness come in the way of your relationships.