If someone in your life has begun to show signs of memory loss, you know how incredibly difficult it can be to communicate. Those with memory loss often seem off in their own world, remembering decades-old events like they were yesterday, and forgetting everything about today.
Imagine how hard life is for that person, when everything that’s true to them is being argued against, or when people they don’t think they know are constantly asking, “But don’t you remember me?”
Caring for a loved one with dementia or memory loss can be difficult, but a few simple tips can make these occasions less frustrating and more enjoyable for all.
- Try not to argue. Your loved one might be reliving a past memory or combining several memories, but the experience is as true to them as anything else. For their sake especially, but also for yours, try to come alongside them and join the conversation in their reality.
- Remember the good old days. If your mom wants to talk about a past event, indulge her! Those with memory loss often can remember long-ago memories much better than recent ones. Enjoy the moment and the conversation by reminiscing about whatever is on her mind.
- Keep your conversations simple. Try not to include too many facts in each sentence. Short, clear statements will be easier to process and less likely to induce confusion. Focus on one thing at a time, and repeat yourself often if necessary. It might also help to reduce background noise and other distractions. Try to be specific in your questions, too. “Would you like eggs for breakfast?” is much easier to handle than “What would you like to eat?”
- Be understanding. Try to empathize with your loved one and consider how difficult it can be to suffer from memory loss. If your dad doesn’t remember who you are or some other important fact, don’t be offended. Try not to tell him that you’ve already given him this information, or that he should know it. You can’t force him to remember, but you can make him feel bad for forgetting. Forgive him and move on.
- Stay calm. Getting upset is a common feature of memory loss, and given how difficult things can be, it’s no wonder. Keep your cool and acknowledge the hurt feelings. Encourage your loved ones to talk about their feelings, and listen to what they’re going through. If you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, you can gently try to change the subject (but without dismissing their hurt or ignoring their feelings). If you feel like you need a break, you can always call Take My Hand for respite support.
For more advice on how to converse with a loved one with memory loss, check out these posts from the Alzheimer’s Society and Senior Advisor. And if you’d like to chat with Take My Hand about how we can help, please give us a call.