“Dementia is a call for all of us to be more patient in a busy world.” – Alzheimer Society of Canada.
The effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia on those with the disease, along with their family, friends, and caregivers are far-reaching. From an immediate source of physical and emotional stress, and financial burden on the family, to a larger economic influence on the healthcare system and community as nuclear time-related stressors of missed work, etc. impact the family’s wider circle, Alzheimer’s reach is far and devastating.
1. Understanding it’s not just “Them”
In fact, it could be you. The hereditary or genetic aspects of some dementias are of note. Yes, caring for a senior loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia is draining and can leave one feeling short-fused. Taking a breather (or a respite stay) is okay, and actually for the better of you both.
2. Relationships can change
The relationship with your lifelong partner or your parent will undoubtedly change. How partners show affection may change; they may feel more amorous or less amorous, and potentially in inopportune moments. Parents or partners may look to you to take on a role you never have before in the family, such as handling finances, etc. Behavioural changes will dictate your responses, but not necessarily the affection that’s the foundation for the relationship. Patience and openness are your best allies.
3. Becoming aware of guilt, grief, loss and anger
A lot of emotions are involved in relationships where Alzheimer’s and dementia are a factor. These are very common for families and caregivers; know you’re not alone. It can help to find a support group, or talk to a professional to unburden some of those emotions.
But two of the most important things we can keep in mind when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia are:
#1 Knowledge is the best asset on this journey. Educating oneself with as much information there is, such as from the Alzheimer Society of Canada or Verve’s Alzheimer’s & Dementia series by certified Dementia Consultant Karen Tyrell, and asking for help from professionals, not only helps with the practicalities of caregiving or living with someone affected by the disease, but also to feel emotionally equipped to handle it. And;
#2 Never underestimate the impact of love and compassion for the person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is the one thing we can all give limitlessly and provides one of the biggest impacts on those living with the disease.
Recommendations for families and caregivers
Deciding if and when it’s time for you or a loved one to take the next big step can signify loss and harsh realizations, which is why we’ve also covered how to have the conversation about moving into a retirement residence to make it as smooth a conversation as possible.
You can also discover how Verve Senior Living is Enriching Lives in Memory Care in one of our most recent Virtually Verve events via Zoom. The information session, hosted by our experienced Health & wellness team, delved into Verve’s specialized Memory Care residences as well as how our signature Life Enrichment programming and amenities provide the highest quality of life for our residents to feel empowered to live their days with purpose.
For more tips on everything from how to live safely with Alzheimer’s and dementia to the importance of maintaining healthy feet in dementia care, explore more inspiring stories on our blog.