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Caregiving presents countless challenges, and when your loved one suffers from dementia or another illness that causes memory loss, these challenges often increase as your loved one loses capacity to function.
Managing the frustration that can build when your loved one asks the same question over the course of a day—or during a single conversation—takes some adjustment. David Smith, a Social Work Development Specialist at VNSNY CHOICE, offers tips and suggestions for caregivers dealing with the issues around memory loss:
Educate Yourself. If memory loss is a recent development in your loved one’s illness, find the time to educate yourself about it. “Understanding that memory loss is a symptom and that repeated questions are an early sign of cognitive impairment can be helpful when it comes to alleviating your frustration,” says Smith. The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for learning more about dementia.
Think Strategically. Develop strategies to deal with your loved one’s questions. Smith says that these will vary depending on each person and that you’ll need to pay attention to the possible motivations behind the questions. Is your mom or dad looking for reassurance? If so, write the answer down on a card to remind your loved one that he/she already has the answer; after a few reminders, he/she may learn to look at the card before asking you again. If your very outgoing mother asks questions all the time because she needs interaction or wants to talk to someone, find social outlets where she can engage with people.
Reach Out. Communicate with others and tap into a supportive network. Your loved one’s physician can be a source of help both for information about memory loss and for coping strategies. Support groups for caregivers are also an excellent source of tools to manage the condition as it progresses.
Don’t Forget to Look After Yourself. Perhaps the biggest and most effective way to manage the frustration: “Nourish and nurture yourself,” says Smith. “Take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep and getting the time you need to attend to your own needs can work wonders when it comes to easing your frustration.”
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.