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July 28, 2023

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Senior Memory Support: Coping with Grief, Guilt and Uncertainty

By: Country Meadows | Memory Care

When a loved one develops dementia, many emotions surface, for both the individual experiencing dementia and their loved ones. Senior memory support experts share some strategies that may help.

Educate yourself

Research and learn about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to understand its emotional impact. Dementia support organizations offer resources in libraries and on websites, and many also facilitate support groups. Understanding the nature of dementia and its progression can help caregivers develop empathy and cope better with the emotional changes that occur. It also helps loved ones recognize that dementia is a disease beyond anyone’s control. By learning more about the condition, people can gain perspective and alleviate guilt associated with the situation.

Consult senior memory support experts

If emotions related to dementia become overwhelming or significantly impact the person’s quality of life, consult healthcare professionals specializing in senior memory support. They can provide guidance, suggest coping techniques or recommend appropriate solutions.

Validate Emotions

Recognize and acknowledge the person’s emotions, even if they seem irrational or unrelated to the situation. Country Meadows staff members in senior memory support use the Validation Method to foster more successful communication with residents living with dementia. Validate the senior’s feelings by saying things like, “I can see that you’re feeling frustrated,” to let them know you understand. Avoid arguing or correcting them if they’re expressing a different reality. Instead, redirect their attention or engage in conversation on a different topic.

Practice effective communication

Senior memory support experts advise using simple and clear language, speaking slowly and maintaining eye contact. Be sure to allow the person enough time to process information and respond. Expressing love, understanding and reassurance can still make a difference. Remind the individual you care and be patient and compassionate when interacting with them.

Establish routines

Consistency and predictability can help reduce anxiety and emotional distress. Senior memory support professionals establish daily routines for meals, activities and sleep to provide a sense of stability and comfort.

Maintain a calm environment

Create a peaceful and structured environment that reduces stress, anxiety and confusion. Minimize noise, maintain a constant routine and avoid overwhelming stimuli.

Encourage physical exercise

Regular physical activity can help reduce restlessness and promote a sense of well-being. Senior memory support staff at Country Meadows purposely engage individuals in activities like walking, gentle stretching or chair exercises, depending on their abilities.

Provide meaningful activities

Senior memory support services, such as those at Country Meadows, schedule a robust calendar of activities to keep most residents busy. If caring for a loved one with dementia at home, keep the person involved in activities they enjoy and can still manage. Some examples could include listening to music, looking at photo albums, doing puzzles or participating in activities that stimulate their senses and memories.

Every person living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia is unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Be patient, adaptable and compassionate as you navigate this emotional journey.

Senior memory support experts stress it is important to recognize yourself and your own needs to cope with feelings of guilt related to a loved one’s dementia.

Take care of yourself

Remember to prioritize your own well-being. Engage in self-care activities, maintain a support network and seek respite when needed. Taking care of yourself will help you better support your loved one.

Seek support

Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member or support group for caregivers. Talking about your guilt and receiving support and understanding from others who experience similar emotions can be helpful. Sometimes simply expressing your feelings and having someone listen can bring relief. Professional counseling or therapy also can be beneficial.

Accept your limitations

It’s important to recognize that you are not responsible for causing or curing your loved one’s dementia. Dementia is a complex condition with various causes. Dementia care experts stress that accepting your limitations and understanding that you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances can help alleviate guilt.

Reflect on your intentions

Remind yourself that your intentions have always been to provide the best care and senior memory support for your loved one. Focus on the efforts you have made to ensure their well-being, rather than dwelling on perceived shortcomings.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind and gentle with yourself. Recognize that caring for someone with dementia is a challenging task, and it’s normal to feel a range of emotions, including guilt. In senior memory support, it is important to treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding as you extend to others.

Focus on the present

Dementia can evoke feeling of guilt about the past or worries about the future. Try to shift your focus to the present moment and actions you can take now to provide senior memory support for your loved one. Embrace the moments of joy and connection that you can still share.

Country Meadows can help

Country Meadows Retirement Communities has memory care services on all campus locations and offers numerous resources via the website. Seniors and their family members are welcomed to contact our teams with questions and learn more about our levels of senior memory support. Please contact us today for more information. We’re here to help!

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