- DR. MARION'S METHOD
- CAREGIVER TRAINING
He Doesn't Recognize Me
Watching a loved one slowly lose his or her memory is tough. Watching that same person forget who you are is downright heart-wrenching. “There are so many emotions caregivers go through—sadness, anger, depression, frustration, hopelessness—and they’re all perfectly normal,” says Marion Somers, Ph.D., geriatric expert and author of Elder Care Made Easier: Doctor Marion’s 10 Steps to Help You Care for an Aging Loved One. It’s also normal to feel uncomfortable about your mixed emotions. After all, caring for someone who doesn’t seem to remember you can up the stress factor significantly. Here are six things you can do to make your job easier:
KNOW YOU’RE STILL NEEDED
“You have a person who doesn’t know who you are, and they’re likely frightened. It can be difficult for the older person to trust that you have their best interests at heart, so make sure you come from a place of caring and remind them of your ties to people they do remember,” Somers says.
SCALE DOWN COMMUNICATION
You don’t want to talk down to your loved one, but using short sentences and simple words—and a calm, reassuring tone of voice—will make it easier for your family member to concentrate on what you’re saying. Reducing distractions, such as a television in the background, will also help.
“I encourage caregivers to find a support group or someone they can trust so that they can understand that they’re not alone,” says Somers. “It will help them live their lives—and be better caregivers.”
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
“Think about what will make you feel centered—and do it,” Somers says. “If you sacrifice your well being for the person you are caring for, eventually the well runs dry and your own health suffers.” Your loved one can easily pick up on negative emotions, making your job that much more difficult.
Your loved one may not remember who the visitors are, but simply having company and social contact is a good thing—for both of you.
FEND OFF FRUSTRATION
It can be frustrating to answer the same questions repeatedly, but saying to your loved one, “I already told you this,” or “Do you remember Aunt Sally?” will add to your—and your loved one’s—feelings of stress. Here are ways to manage the frustration you might feel.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for a loved one with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or another disease that affects memory, please call 1-800-675-0391.
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