If your loved one suffers dementia and you’re the primary caregiver, your relationship changes. Whether the loved one is your senior, friend, or partner, the shift will be gradual and no less unsettling.
Unlike when someone needs physical therapy or rehabilitation, you don’t get to celebrate small victories and improvements. In almost all cases of dementia, the condition worsens. That means more and more responsibility with less and less gratification. It’s not an easy undertaking and it devastates the existing relationship. It’s why many people seek out memory care services.
There are those however who don’t see the immediate benefit. Who wonder, if Alzheimer’s Disease (the leading cause of dementia) is incurable, then what kind of treatment can someone else possibly provide? The short answer: a lot. Here are 6 ways memory care in Tacoma will save your relationship with your loved one.
1. Memory Strengthening Tests
There are devices caregivers use to strengthen the cognitive function of those with dementia. There are some test/games, but more than that “routine”. If you’re the adult child of the senior suffering dementia, it’s safe to assume you’re working and taking care of your immediate family as well. That type of lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to routine, if anything, taking care of your elder can dishevel your entire schedule – remember, they’ve crunched the numbers, caregiving is a full-time job.
Elders with dementia have a difficult time forming long term memories. Once they perform an activity, the brain may forget where to store it or how. Routine actually helps elders because there are more opportunities for their memories to convert into long-term.
2. Sensory Engagement
One of the perks of memory care is, it’s the caregivers’ job to take care of your loved one; their only job. This means they can take the time you couldn’t (or can’t). One of the things that helps elders with dementia is engaging their senses.
You’ve heard of “sense memory”, and in many cases, it’s more reliable than our own memory. Perhaps you’re familiar with the concept that every time you remember something, you’re remembering the last time you remembered it, so each time the memory grows more and more muddled. Sense memory is different because it engages the senses and can spark memories that have been dormant for a long time.
For instance, if your mother was praised for her Pumpkin Pie, then caregivers work with them to get the pie made and strengthen their brain. If your father used to work at Boeing, then taking a trip there might spark (and strengthen) some memories.
Again, caregivers can effectively make the time to take care of seniors.
One of the things caregivers trained in dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and memory loss know better than anyone else is patience. If you know the elder suffering dementia intimately, chances are good you’re going to get frustrated. It happens all the time. They may have been able to use the bathroom by themselves yesterday, but today they can’t.
It’s even harder when you’re their spouse or child, because you remember how active they were; how helpful. It is a burden, and at times, it’s hard to communicate it; it’s hard to know if they’re even “there”. Caregivers understand the disease and its symptoms better than anyone and are trained to handle changes with grace. At home, you might’ve had a bad day at work, or maybe your elder’s needs caused you to miss something important, but caregivers’ sole focus is your loved one.
4. Medication/Billing Management
Something that can always cause a stir is finances. If your elder is suffering dementia—perhaps has for awhile—then, you may have become their caregiver because you received word that they’re in the hospital. Suddenly, you’re no longer managing your own finances, but you need to take inventory of everything in your elders’ bank. You need to be able to pay the hospitals, medical fees, utilities, mortgages, etc. It’s not simply overwhelming, it’s devastating.
Today however, memory care services take over billing — and still keep you informed as to where the money is going and why. There’s an entire team behind this stuff, so you don’t need to panic, worry, or fear.
Something a lot of family members give up once they’ve been caring for their elderly parent for a long time is the personal relationship. They get caught up in doctor’s appointments, medication refills, and helping them survive that they distance themselves personally. Helping your father go to the bathroom isn’t the most appealing activity and many people deal with it by forgetting their relationship.
Caregivers know that, in some cases, they are the only lifeline these seniors have. They take that to heart. This is why they invest their time caring for elders; they put their hearts into it. They are not providing a service, they’re taking care of someone’s life – that’s a delicate responsibility.
6. Independence where Independence is Due
The final point to bring up is how caregivers allow elders to do what they can on their own. What’s meant by that is, often family members get so used to doing everything for their elder that they run on autopilot. They try to streamline the process. For instance, they may make their loved one some food, sit down, and start spooning it into their mouth to finish the process quickly.
Taking care of an elder this way, although potentially faster, limits the elder’s independence. At Concierge Care Advisors, we’ve seen family members feed their loved one, and when the senior raises their hand to take the spoon, the family member unconsciously moves the hand away. It’s not always going to be clear when your elder is responsive, but caregivers are trained to watch for it. If the senior tries to do something on their own, then even if they make a mess, even if it takes an hour, they allow them to.
Independence is something we all treasure. It’s something all of us strive to be. So caregivers make sure that, if there’s something an elder can do on their own (without risking their own safety), they let them.
If your elder is in need of memory care in Tacoma or anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest, then contact our housing advisors. We’ll make sure they move into a home where they are taken care of and given the respect and independence they need.