Building Meaningful Relationships with Loved Ones with Dementia
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, almost 16 million Americans provide unpaid care to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia. Many of these family caregivers are part of what is known as the “sandwich generation,” as they provide care to an aging loved one while also raising their own family and maintaining their careers.
When caring for someone with dementia, caregivers often face unique challenges. A few of the most common symptoms of dementia include memory loss that disrupts the individual’s daily life, communication issues and changes in personality. These symptoms in particular can make dementia caregiving difficult, as loved ones often seem different from the person you’ve always known and loved.
Caring for Someone with Dementia: Maintaining and Building Relationships
While it can be frustrating when your loved one no longer recognizes you or remembers your name, studies show that individuals living with dementia still benefit from being around you. As you face these changes in your loved one, it becomes important to know more about the Person-Centered Model of Dementia Care. Also known as the Culture-Change Model, this holistic approach to dementia caregiving has a special focus on the individual’s remaining abilities, giving them more control over their daily lives as they set their own routines and make their own decisions.
By utilizing the Person-Centered Model of Care, you can reset your expectations, focusing less on the past or the future you would’ve liked for your loved one, and instead focus on what is occurring at the moment. It may take a bit of trial and error, but you can learn what works best for your particular situation to allow for easier caregiving and less daily stress. For instance, you might find that using nonverbal communication through gentle touches, meaningful eye contact or a simple smile in response to challenging behavior expressions and setting a positive atmosphere helps you better connect to your loved one.
Find activities your loved one enjoys, whether it’s gardening, looking through old photos or listening to favorite music and make them part of their daily routine. Recognize that the person you love is still there, even if you can no longer enjoy long conversations together. Instead, live in the moment and cherish every new memory you make together.
Seeking Support for Dementia Caregiving
Additionally, seek caregiver support to ensure you’re connecting with others who are sharing similar experiences. These groups provide opportunities to learn methods for building and maintaining relationships with loved ones living with dementia, as well as coping strategies and reaffirm that you should be attending to your own needs, too. You can also help and support others while receiving the support you need to thrive in your caregiving duties.
American Senior Communities offers a person-centered, wellness-based model of dementia care within our Auguste’s Cottage program and our assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. We also provide respite care services to allow dementia caregivers the opportunity to go on vacation, attend appointments or just to get a break from their caregiving responsibilities for a while. Contact us today to request more information.