One of the most difficult moments for a family caregiver who is caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease is when that senior no longer recognizes you. This is the moment most caregivers dread, and it can be extremely emotionally difficult. You have given so much time, energy, and effort to care for the senior, only for them to no longer know who you are, or why you were there. Preparing yourself for this potential, and knowing how to cope with it effectively can reduce the negative impact, and allow you to move through it in a way that is healthy and constructive for both of you.
Use these tips to help you cope with a senior with Alzheimer’s disease no longer recognizing you:
- Don’t take it personally. Remember this is not your parent, but the disease. Them not recognizing you, calling you by a different name, or thinking you are someone else, is not intentional, and they are not trying to hurt you. This is an effect of their condition, and something they cannot control.
- Avoid showing your pain. Your parent will not understand the situation, or why you are hurt. If they do realize what happened, they might be embarrassed, upset, or ashamed of what happened. This can lead to further negative behaviors and effects. Instead, stay calm and pleasant.
- Explain briefly and clearly. Don’t give a long, wordy explanation of who you are, or confuse them by saying other names or other relationships. Give a brief, clear explanation of who you are, and move on. For example, rather than saying “I’m your daughter Sally, the one younger than your daughter Mary, but older than your son Peter. I’m Jennifer’s mother.” Simply say, “Actually, it’s me, your daughter Sally.”
- Be prepared with reminders. Have pictures of the two of you together, particularly of you when you were younger, to show them. This can help to trigger their memory and reconnect them with you.
- Be willing to “time travel” a bit. If your parent is stuck in a different time in their head, don’t try to “snap them out of it.” This isn’t going to work, and can be detrimental to your parent. Instead, be willing to go to wherever they are, and interact with them as though it is that time. Even if that means not having your identity for this interaction, meet them on that level.
- Remove blame or shame when correcting. If your parent doesn’t recognize you, or uses the wrong name for someone, or calls an object by the wrong name, don’t place blame or shame. Instead, present the real information as an observation or suggestion. Try something like “Oh, I thought it was June”, or “I think that’s actually your neighbor, Paul”, or “I don’t think I’m here to help you move. I think we’re just going to play some games today.”
If you have been looking for ways to enhance your parents quality of life, help them to manage their health challenges and other limitations, boost their mental and emotional health, and encourage them to live a more fulfilling life, now may be the ideal time for you to consider elderly care for them. An elderly home care services provider can be with your parents on a schedule that is right not only for your parents individual needs and challenges, but also for the level of care you already give them. Through a set of highly personalized services tailored specifically to them, this care provider can help your parent to stay safe, healthy, comfortable, and happy, while also pursuing greater activity, independence, and fulfillment as they age in place. This can give you tremendous peace of mind as their family caregiver by reassuring you your senior will be in good hands both when you are able to be with them, and when you are not.
If you or someone you know needs elderly care in Hutchinson, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.