First, they forget things, where they placed the TV remote control or their knitting kit. Then, they forget names, calling you by your sister’s name instead. Then the inevitable happens: they won’t remember you anymore. Although you’ve been used to your relative constantly forgetting things because of dementia, that familiarity with the disease still doesn’t cushion you from the pain of not being recognized anymore, their memory of you slowly slipping away from their consciousness. This is one of the most significant sources of caregiver burnout, but it’s important to try to have a grip on this reality so that you can give the support your loved one needs. You can ask the advice of senior home health care professionals, but you can do the following things to cope with this situation:
Recognize the loss
Unless you accept what’s happening, you won’t be able to move forward wholeheartedly. So, give yourself time to grieve. You may want to take time off from caregiving and visit a therapist or even just a friend. It will also help if you gather as a family to process the situation with each other. You’d feel a lot more comfortable when you know that you’re not alone and that you have people to confide in. Consider respite care services for your aging parent so you can have the peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands even when you’re away.
Ask for medical help
If your loved one doesn’t remember you, there’s a high chance that they’d respond negatively, even violently, to your efforts of helping and reaching out. If that’s the case, consult their doctor about medications and therapies they can take to manage such behaviors. You should also have senior home health care experts over as well to ensure that the prescription drugs and other medical interventions are correctly followed through. This won’t necessarily reverse the effects of dementia on your loved one or dispel the forgetfulness, but they will effectively help in reducing the gravity of the symptoms.
Even though they won’t remember you, try your best to still let them know who you are. Get some photos and videos ready so you can reassure them that you’re indeed who you say you are. Apart from relieving their anxieties, this can trigger remembrance of more recent memories. What’s more, this counts for a bonding activity with them, helping you connect with them even though you’re both at different mental spaces.
Keep in mind the root of the problem
With all the mess and stress of dementia, it’s easy to forget who the real enemy is here. You might hold a grudge against your loved one subconsciously. But always remind yourself of the root of the problem, the disease itself. Blame Alzheimer’s, not your loved one. If you’re more conscious of this, it will stretch your empathy further, and empower you more in caring for your loved one.
It’s heartbreaking to see a loved one go through the harrowing stages of dementia and keep you out of their lives. But now is the time they need you most. Even though they keep shutting you out, be there for them. Support them through and through.