My Teachers on My Dementia Journey
Learning how to care for a loved one with dementia is not an easy task. It is a gradual process, and the symptoms can be subtle at first. For example, your loved one may start to lose their credit card frequently, get lost in a familiar place, or forget important meetings. At first, you may dismiss this occasional forgetfulness as nothing to worry about. However, if these symptoms persist, it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out dementia.
I learned about dementia through the difficult journeys of my loved ones. My grandmother developed dementia with multiple mini strokes, my mother developed dementia with Parkinson's, my father-in-law developed Alzheimer's, and my dear husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. As their cognitive thinking declined, their emotional memories opened. I learned that love, empathy, and joy still existed within them. I needed to find ways to connect with them on an emotional level, even though they were no longer able to communicate with me in the same way.
In my book, Taming the Chaos of Dementia, I share my stories and lessons learned from my grandmother, mother, father-in-law, and husband. They were valuable teachers, and I hope that my experiences will help others who are caring for loved ones with dementia.
Here are some tips for caregivers:
Be patient and understanding. Dementia is a progressive disease, and it can be frustrating for both the person with dementia and the caregiver. Be patient and understanding and try to see things from their perspective.
Communicate effectively. As the person with dementia's cognitive abilities decline, it may be difficult for them to communicate their needs. Find ways to communicate with them that are effective, such as using gestures, or pictures.
Provide emotional support. Dementia can be a lonely and isolating experience. Be there for your loved one and provide them with emotional support. Let them know that you love them and that you are there for them.
Take care of yourself. Caring for a loved one with dementia can be demanding. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can be the best caregiver possible. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging but rewarding experience. By following these tips, you can make the journey a little bit easier for both of you.