November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month. During this month it is a great time to reflect back on all the hard work and blessings that caregivers provide.
As a caregiver of your own loved ones or someone else’s, you may face inimitable challenges. Losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s may result in many emotions, most notably sadness, helplessness, and frustration. There are a few helpful approaches to help you as a caregiver or as a family member focus on the positive aspects of your loved one’s life as opposed to what may be lost. The goal of these strategies is to fully engage with your loved one and appreciate all of their spirits while they are still here.
Work towards their strong point: Try engaging your loved one in an activity that they previously excelled in. Not only will this be nostalgic for them but it will also allow for the activity to have meaning. An important part of life is knowing that your life holds meaning. Find a simple way to oblige your loved one’s interest and incorporate the activity into their daily life.
Suggest meaningful family traditions: While short-term memory may be weakened, family traditions from the long ago past may be reassuring. Whether it is celebrating Thanksgiving together, performing prayers during religious occasions, or singing “Happy Birthday”, the memories these traditions conjure can be influential and may help your loved one feel less lonely. Whatever your family tradition or ritual is, find ways to include your loved one in your day to day communication. The impact can be significant.
Add a musical atmosphere: Even after most activities become too difficult and it is harder to involve your loved one, music still has the power to invigorate and renew someone with Alzheimer’s. Enjoying music together creates a fun, shared experience. The power of musical expression can have a surprising impact on people with Alzheimer’s disease.
These suggestions all work towards the same goal: create time to just be with your loved one. Sometimes this feels like too much to ask given the abundance of tasks you must complete. But setting aside time to permit yourself to just be present can leave you feeling linked to your loved one as opposed to exhausted. Our own emotional conditions can have a substantial impression on our loved ones who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Discovering ways to feel stress-free, composed and even pleased as a caregiver, will help you receive the truth of the disease without losing the ability to see the person who is still there.
It takes a little muscle and it takes a little grit,