Having Alzheimer's can be incredibly difficult as the condition progresses and a person loses more and more of his or her memory. But what about those around the resident who have to cope with the condition, too? Caregivers of senior loved ones can have a hard time watching their friend or family member slowly lose touch with today. If you know someone who has Alzheimer's, here are some tips to help you cope with his or her condition:
Remember to be patient
A huge part of being around someone in assisted living memory care involves having patience. This individual may be at a stage where he or she doesn't remember where he or she lives, or who you are as a visitor. Alzheimer's care nurses as well as family members must be especially patient as they have to constantly remind the residents who they are and their reason for being there. It can be very frustrating to watch this decline, so be sure to step back and take a deep breath after repeating yourself a few times. Getting angry that your loved one can't recall something isn't going to help anyone and may even make the senior more agitated and confused.
Savor the good days
"Some days are better than others."
For most people with Alzheimer's, some days are better than others. You may walk in to the memory care assisted living and be greeted by name one day, while the next the individual doesn't have a clue who you are. Savor those good days and really enjoy being there for your loved one. These are the times to ask important questions that they need to be lucid for, like administrative things involving his or her bank accounts or mail. Also talk about things that are important, like grandchildren and even his or her spouse. You may consider making little notes about your visits to keep yourself or leave for the senior to help you both remember what those days are like when he or she isn't on top of his or her game.
Talk about the distant past
Alzheimer's often affects long-term memory last. This means your mom or dad will likely remember you since they've known you a long time, but they may forget your children's names or the street outside their assisted living community window. To see the senior in his or her glory, if you will, ask your loved one about a time that is long past, like when he or she was in high school or maybe the military. Recalling fond memories will help the senior feel better since he or she can get a footing on the world this way, and you'll enjoy seeing your loved one light up when he or she can recall something or someone special.
Share your grief
You cannot bottle up your feelings about your loved one with Alzheimer's. Share your frustration, anger and sadness with a friend or relative. It's even better if you can talk with someone who also knows the senior and is experiencing similar feelings while coping with the condition. Letting your emotions out can help you better interact with the person when you are with him or her, plus you may find some solace in just talking about what's going on. It's a good idea to keep family members and friends in the loop about the senior's condition, and sharing this info can be cathartic for you as well. It's helpful to have some idea what to expect in terms of how the person's memory is before going to see them. Be sure to tell his or her loved ones about your visits – both happy and sad – because everyone can benefit from being aware of the senior's state of mind.
Spend time away
It's tempting to stick around your loved one's assisted living community to be helpful when he or she needs something and catch every last good day. This isn't necessary, though. You need to continue living your life and spending time away from the senior or you may become exhausted. It's easy to get caught up in watching Alzheimer's progress, but neither you or your older loved one will benefit from this. Visit him or her often, but don't set up shop in his or her apartment – you need some time away too.