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IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Adjusting to a Loved One’s Transition to Memory Care: 5 Suggestions for the Caregiver

After moving their loved ones into a memory care community, caregivers often find themselves unsure of the next steps. Before the transition, they planned ahead to help the process go as smoothly as possible. They looked for useful tips and suggestions that others recommended. Yet now there may remain a sense of uncertainty. That’s understandable. As focus has been on trying to anticipate their loved one’s needs, there’s one thing that most caregivers overlook.

And that is themselves.

Due to the characteristics of Alzheimer’s or dementia, the caregiving relationship is often one directional, aimed toward your loved one. As such, the caregivers and their struggles may go unnoticed. But it’s important to acknowledge that they need support as well.

It’s likely been an exhausting journey with few rest stops along the way. After making the difficult decision of the move, you may be asking yourself what your role is now? How will you spend your time? These questions are common among caregivers. You helped your loved one adjust to the transition, but now you should take time to help yourself adjust as well. 

5 Suggestions to Help Adapt

  1. You’ll still play an important part in your loved one’s care.

The difference is that you’ll have significant help. Take time to redefine your role. You have the opportunity now to ease back and become a compassionate companion, not the sole provider of physical care. Your support can be more personalized, such as affection, grooming, walking together, reading or looking at photos or participating in other activities your loved one enjoys.

  1. Find a support group with those who are in a similar situation.

It can be a lifesaver to have a place where you’re able to speak openly and honestly about what you’re going through. This is one of the best places to learn what has and hasn’t worked for others and how they got through the accompanying feelings. It can also lift your own spirits when you’re able to support them.

  1. Take care of your physical health

Taking care of yourself can help you continue to adjust to the changes brought about by a cognitive illness. You’ll need to prioritize and actually schedule to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising. Even a daily walk can provide physical and emotional benefits and offer the chance to re-tune for the day.

Your emotional health should also be given precedence. Caregiving can take a heavy toll so it’s important to find comfort or a break, even if it’s only a small gesture. For a few minutes each day, find time for what makes you feel better.

  1. Make space for your friends and socializing.

It’s easy to become solely involved in caregiving, especially if you’ve been taking care of your loved one at home. But try to keep in touch with those friends and activities you knew before the disease. It actually can help to remember that there is still a world and life going on. The ability to spend time in that world is restorative, even if only for a short amount.

  1. Continue to learn.

It helps if you’re prepared for the challenges the disease can present, especially as it affects the interactions between you and your loved one. Ellen Gerst, author of A Guide for Caregivers of Aging Parents with Alzheimer’s: Words of Assistance, Comfort and Inspiration writes about the difference between reflectively reacting vs. reflexively responding, such as how easy it can be to become caught in the delusions and paranoia of the one you’re caring for. 

Additional Suggestions to Help You Cope

The Alzheimer’s Association is also a great resource to help you manage as you continue to make your way through the challenges of dementia. Here are additional tips to help reset your emotional state and replace the negative self-dialogue that cognitive illnesses can often create.

Manage your level of stress. Find relaxation techniques that work for you and talk with your doctor if needed.

Be realistic. You only have so much control. Grieve your losses but also enjoy the good memories and positive times as they come.

Know you’re doing your best. Guilt is a common emotion as a caregiver but remember you’re doing your best and making sure the person is well cared for and safe.

Accept changes as they occur. As the disease progresses, your loved one’s needs will continue to change. Try to understand this and remain as flexible as you can.

Give yourself a break. Even if your loved one is in a memory care community, sometimes you will need a pause from caregiving duties. One of the advantages of these communities is that you can take a rest while knowing care and security is being provided.

Ingleside’s Memory Support Assisted Living

Our care team is here to help and support both your family and your loved one. We understand the challenges that caregivers face and want to remind you that you’re not alone. We’re also a great resource if you need help in adjusting to your new role.

Please call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

 

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