When a family member is diagnosed with dementia, the dynamics of life change for everyone who loves and cares for them. Unlike other physical conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia interfere with who a person is: how they act, what they say, who they remember. These changes ripple through the entire family, impacting relationships, finances and lifestyles.
So how does a family deal with the life-altering effects of a loved one’s dementia? It helps to know what to expect, shares Community Relations Director Nancy Clanton, from Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, FL. “While the adjustments families make when dementia emerges are never easy, understanding what’s going on with your loved one, and how your role will change, helps families feel more prepared for the road ahead,” says Clanton. “Learning how Alzheimer’s will affect your loved one, yourself and the rest of the family will enable you to better plan for the future.”
A 360° View from Your Loved One’s Perspective
By the time your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, they will have likely been living with the disease for a while. They may have noticed some changes – lapses in memory, trouble concentrating, struggles to find the right words, follow a recipe or balance their checkbook – but figured they were just “senior moments.” Now, your loved one has to come to terms with the disease that will gradually make it harder to carry out everyday tasks and conversations.
Dementia changes everything. From the way, your loved one thinks to how the lighting in the room makes them feel, your loved one will be going through changes at a deep level. Here are some examples to consider:
- Trouble communicating – finding the right words; following along in a conversation
- Memory loss – forgetting newly learned information; difficulty doing sequential tasks
- Behavior – becoming agitated easily; feeling isolated or depressed
- Poor judgment – not thinking actions through; making poor decisions
- Sensory changes – extra sensitive to light and shadows; loss of taste and smell; vision problems
- Psychological symptoms – may start to experience delusions or hallucinations
These are just a few of the changes your loved one may experience as their dementia progresses. You can read more about dementia symptoms here.
A 360° View from a Caregiver’s Perspective
The primary caregivers of someone with Alzheimer’s are most often an unpaid, untrained family member who devotes their time and energy to ensuring their loved one is healthy, safe and engaged. The caregiver’s role intensifies as their loved one’s dementia progresses and they require more support for daily living tasks such as bathing, dressing and eating. While caregiving is often rewarding, it can also take a major toll on a caregiver’s health and lifestyle. Be aware of these common effects of caregiving and learn how to prevent them:
- Physical health – loss of sleep; poor diet; lack of time to exercise; fatigue; high blood pressure
- Emotional health – high levels of stress; depression; anxiety; poor self-care
- Lifestyle – isolated from friends, family or coworkers; busy with responsibilities
- Relationships – changes between self and loved one; role reversals; tension between family members who disagree on care
While these effects may seem grim, they can be preventable with the proper perspective, planning and, of course, help from friends, family and support groups. Learn some effective strategies for taking care of yourself as a caregiver.
A 360° View from the Family’s Perspective
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can also impact family dynamics. Children and teenagers may not fully understand the changes happening to their older loved one, and they might struggle to accept their condition or withdraw from their loved one. Adult children may experience denial, grief or tension as they come to terms with their parent’s illness and try to coordinate how to care for them.
As every family is different, reactions, relationships and support will vary among them. However, one piece of advice all experts suggest is communicating openly and often with your family about a loved one’s dementia. Because so much emotional and sometimes physical support is needed, it’s important that family members are on the same page and work together to give their loved one the best quality of life as possible.
A 360° View of Your Resources
Everyone who’s learning to cope with dementia, either their own or a family member’s, should know that they are not alone, and help is always within reach. Some of the best resources for families dealing with dementia include:
- Primary care physicians
- Support groups
- The Alzheimer’s Association
- Local Agency on Aging
- Local organizations, such as churches or senior centers
- A support network of family, friends and neighbors
- Local senior living communities that offer respite care, home services, support groups, educational events for caregivers and more
Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay is one such senior living community. “We are dedicated to helping seniors and families dealing with dementia learn how to cope and care for each other throughout the disease process,” states Clanton. “We offer dignified memory care within our community, delivered by professionals specially trained in dementia care. For families and caregivers looking for advice and support, our team is a valuable resource of information on caregiving techniques, treatment options, holistic therapies to try and so much more.
“If you could use some support as you deal with your loved one’s Alzheimer’s, don’t hesitate to give us a call.”
The Art of Living
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.