A slip of the tongue or sharply delivered comment can deliver unnecessary pain for aging loved ones. It is easy to be irritated when Mom asks daily how to use the remote control or falls asleep in the middle of their grandson’s violin recital. It can hurt when Dad can’t remember their granddaughter’s name or can’t remember birthdays anymore. However, it is important not to blame the aging loved one for their diminished capacity. Often they are aware of how they aren’t like they used to be. It can be defeating and a bitter pill to swallow for the aging loved one and for their adult children.
The delivery of the message can make a world of difference. Seniors often lose short term memory before long term and forget all kinds of things that might seem hard to forget, like appointments or where they put their glasses. Place notes around their home to remind them and be mindful of tone.
Changing a light bulb or tying their shoes – seemingly simple tasks- can become extraordinarily difficult with arthritis. Instead of shaming, come up with solutions like having a nephew change light bulbs or take out the trash. Buy slip on shoes or Velcro shoes rather than lace ups.
Gadgets can be hard to adjust to with all capacities in place, imagine trying to learn how to use the remote with 5,000 buttons with shaky hands and poor eyesight. Instead of saying, “I just showed you this yesterday”, explain again with a kind voice. Or write clear instructions to leave near the device. Best of all: Buy senior-friendly gadgets.
Sometimes aging adults can be in the middle of a conversation talking and then shift topics without warning. If it was an important subject, stir the conversation back to the topic or bring up another time. Do your best to not point fingers.
When the story of how Aunt Midge’s dog ate the brownies off the counter gets boring after the 6th time hearing it, ask yourself, do you never repeat yourself? It’s important not to lose patience and try your best not to hurt their feelings.
All in all, getting frustrated is human, but so are the problems associated with aging like memory loss or diminished strength. Practice grace and be gentle. Caregiving isn’t just caring for the health of your aging loved one, it’s caring for their heart too.
Though each person with dementia may be affected differently, there are many ways that it affects people similarly. Some of these affects include:
•Memory loss –particularly day-to-day memory, such as forgetting what happened earlier in the day, not being able to remember why they are at the grocery. Some people with dementia remember things that happened long ago much better.
•Communication problems – Some may struggle to follow a conversation or forget the names of certain objects.
•Confusion about time or place – not recognizing or getting lost in familiar places or being unaware of the time or date.
•Sight and vision problems – increased difficulty with reading and judging distances or mistaking shiny, patterned objects or reflections.
•Unusual emotional behavior or responses – becoming sad, angry, frightened or upset. Someone may seem to lack self-confidence or display changes in mood.
•Restlessness or disorientation – in unfamiliar or noisy environments people with dementia may become confused or ill at ease.
You, as the caregiver, play an important role in helping your aging loved one with dementia in their everyday life. When you are assisting an aging loved one with dementia, remember the following points.
• Allow the person to take their time
• Be empathetic and compassionate
• Put the person at ease by being friendly and smiling
• Consider their feelings and respond to the emotions they are expressing
• Make eye contact
• Make sure that your body language and facial expressions match what you are saying
• Never stand too close or stand over someone to communicate.
• The person should be able to see your face clearly
Always try to remember to not classify your aging loved one as their set of symptoms. Try to show them that they are an individual and practice patience and kindness. You may have to establish routines that make it easier for your aging loved one. A companion caregiver can help provide the security that your loved one needs in the face of the uncertainty of dementia.
Be there for others but never leave yourself behind.
One of the most important things that you can do as a caregiver is care for yourself. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is truly incomplete. It is not selfish to love and take care of yourself. Making your needs a priority is a necessity. It is especially necessary when you are caring for your aging loved one. It’s important to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself that you cannot pour from an empty cup.
There are many ways to take care of your needs so that you can give your best to the aging loved one. One way is to utilize the services of a companion caregiver like to ones offered by My Choice Home Care. If in your role as a caregiver of aging parents, you are also juggling a career and teenage children, you face an increased risk for depression, chronic illness and a possible decline in quality of life. Companion caregivers can provide you with peace of mind home care that gives you an opportunity to take care of your needs as well as the needs of your aging loved ones and your other responsibilities.
In addition to accepting the peace of mind that home care from a companion caregiver from My Choice Home Care can provide, there are many other ways to take care of you.
First is to realize that you cannot stop the impact of chronic or progressive illness for someone whom you care but there is a great deal that you can do to take responsibility for your personal well-being and getting your own needs met. Sometimes caregivers have misconceptions that increase stress and prevent self-care. Some of those misguided mantras might include : “ I am responsible for my parent’s health” or “ Our family always takes care of their own”, or even “ There’s no way that I can find time to relax when so much needs to be done”. One way to promote self-care is to take inventory of your personal thoughts. Ask yourself what might be getting in your way and keeping you from taking care of yourself.
Once you take an honest inventory of those thoughts and attitudes that are personal barriers to good self-care, one step at a time you can begin to look after yourself.
Here are some tools that are effective for self-care:
• Learn and use stress-reduction techniques, e.g. meditation, prayer, yoga, Tai Chi.
• Attend to your own healthcare needs.
• Get proper rest and nutrition. Exercise regularly, if only for 10 minutes at a time.
• Take time off without feeling guilty, employing the services of a companion caregiver helps with this
• Participate in pleasant activities, such as reading a good book, taking a warm bath.
• Seek and accept the support of others. Seek supportive counseling when you need it, or talk to a trusted counselor, friend, or pastor.
• Identify and acknowledge your feelings, you have a right to ALL of them. Change the negative ways you view situations.
It’s up to you to take care of yourself, with the help of a companion caregiver from My Choice Home Care; you can do that with a little more peace of mind.