If your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of memory loss, everyday tasks can become challenging. As their memory loss progresses, the brain loses many of the basic abilities it needs to perform the simple functions involved in self-care. This is just one of the many reasons why your role as their caregiver is so important.
Once-simple tasks such as bathing, eating, getting dressed and taking medication become difficult for those with memory loss. As your loved one’s abilities change, it’s common for them to react with frustration, sadness or embarrassment. With patience and grace, you can help them through this challenging time as they learn to live with their disease.
Helping Your Loved One with Daily Tasks
Depending on the stage of your loved one’s memory loss, they could need your help as soon as they get up in the morning and until they retire for the night. Many of the day-to-day activities we take for granted are some of the most difficult for those with memory loss to accomplish.
Experts from the Mayo Clinic offer several ways you can help your loved one overcome these everyday challenges. Our senior living experts at Tuscan Gardens added more suggestions to the list. Consider the following ways your loved one could need assistance:
- Bathing – The tasks involved in bathing may confuse or frustrate your loved one. Help them simplify the process and treat them with dignity.
- Dressing – Your loved one may have trouble deciding on an appropriate outfit or performing fine motor tasks like closing buttons or tying shoes. Provide direction and assistance as they go through the steps of getting dressed.
- Eating – Your loved one’s memory loss may make them forget when they last ate, or why they need to eat. They may have trouble using utensils. Help by sticking to a regular meal schedule, serving foods one at a time and adapting foods into bite-sized options.
- Toileting – Your loved one may struggle with incontinence as they forget the meanings of their body’s natural warning signs. Help them maintain their dignity and pay attention to the behaviors that might signal the need to use the bathroom.
- Medications – Forgetting whether they took medication or refusing to take it is common for those with memory loss. Keep their medication organized and have them take it at the same time each day.
- Outings – Loud, crowded areas can overwhelm those with memory loss, triggering stress or the need to get away. Avoid busy places if possible, and consider strategies for helping your loved one cope as you run errands or travel.
- Leisure – Your loved one might have trouble occupying their time at home. Keep their mind and body engaged daily by planning fun activities you can do together, such as going for walks, doing a puzzle or reading together.
Fostering the Mindset for Supporting Memory Loss
Just as important as physically helping your loved one with memory loss accomplish everyday tasks is offering support and helping them cope with these new challenges.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s article, “Tips for Daily Life,” offers great coping strategies for individuals living with memory loss. These techniques can be useful to caregivers, as well, as they go about their daily lives alongside their loved ones.
- Accept Change – Help your loved one avoid stress by encouraging them to accept changes as they happen, rather than hiding them or pretending they’re okay. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Accepting changes in your abilities and adapting new coping skills can help you restore balance to your life and give you a sense of accomplishment in your abilities as you continue to live with the disease.”
- Create a Coping Strategy – Once your loved one accepts that their abilities are changing, help them create a coping strategy. Make a list of tasks that have become challenging. Determine whether it’s necessary for your loved one to do those tasks his or herself, or if someone else can help. Then, find a solution that works for them.
- Make a Daily Routine – Patterns and routines help those with memory loss stay on track of tasks and create a sense of familiarity and accomplishment.
- Do One Thing at a Time – While it’s good to have a plan for the day, allow your loved one to focus on one task at a time without pressure to complete it. This will help them concentrate and accomplish the task while keeping them at ease.
- Recognize Triggers for Stress – Knowing what situations induce stress for your loved one (rushing, criticism, other people in the room) will help you plan ahead so your loved one will have better chances of accomplishing tasks comfortably.
- Ask for and Accept Help – Explain to your loved one that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, seeking help when they need it can help them stay independent longer. The same goes for caregivers – accepting help with caregiving tasks can keep you energized for when your loved one needs you most.
Your Resource for Support Along the Way
When you or your loved one with memory loss face new challenges, don’t forget that you have a compassionate partner in memory care at Tuscan Gardens.
Our team is specially trained in dementia care best practices and we know how to find the support you need. From coping strategies to overcoming memory loss’s daily challenges, Tuscan Gardens has the experience and empathy you and your family need to successfully care for your loved one.
If you would like to learn more about caring for those with memory loss at Tuscan Gardens, contact us today.