Dementia affects nearly 47 million adults around the globe, according to the World Health Organization. If your spouse is one of the many seniors who is experiencing age-related memory loss or more serious dementia, you need to learn new skills to understand how to care for and communicate with them. Take a look at the top tips for helping you and your spouse during the initial stages of memory loss.
Redefine Your Relationship
Transitions are part of life. While this major life change presents obvious challenges, you can continue to love and care for your spouse. But your relationship may not remain the same type of partnership that you've had in past years or decades. Even though this may seem scary or sad at first, it's only a change, not the end.
You may need to give up part of your former life to accept that you may not have an equal partner in your relationship. You should also find a new type of contentment in the communication, actions, and interactions of your marriage. While you may need to give up some of the intellectual or romantic aspects of your marriage, your spouse is still a major part of your life.
Figuring out where they, and you, fit in your new life is a major step in coming to terms with the memory loss/dementia and moving into the next phase of your life together.
Ask for Help
Memory care is best left to the professionals. Even though you know your spouse better than anyone else, you don't have the expert insight or experience to handle the cognitive changes that are gradually happening to your loved one. A memory care unit in an assisted living facility provides 24-7 assistance.
While your spouse may be able to live at home with you in the initial stages of memory loss, as the disease progresses, this isn't likely to remain possible. Ask for help from an expert for both you and your spouse. You'll have the peace of mind in knowing that your loved one is safe and secure and they'll get the care and treatment they need.
Care for Yourself
Caring for a spouse with memory loss or dementia is overwhelming. Experiencing stress, anxiety, and heightened emotions is completely normal when a loved one is going through a cognitive decline. Along with taking on the role of caregiver, you also need to care for yourself.
Even though your spouse may receive professional care at a treatment center or assisted living/nursing community, you are still responsible for caring for them. This can add a sense of strain to the rest of your life, resulting in emotional, social, or physical issues.
As you care for your spouse, take breaks to care for yourself. It's perfectly acceptable to put your own needs first. This includes managing stress through physical activity/exercise, relaxation, meditation, or talking to someone else (such as a friend, relative, or professional therapist). You also need to care for yourself physically. Eat regular meals, pay attention to your own health (and visit the doctor when needed), and get enough sleep.
Interacting with your spouse will change, and you can make this transition easier with a new set of skills. Educate yourself on memory loss and dementia to help you understand your spouse and accept their behavior changes. Some of your spouse's actions may seem startling. Knowing what to expect can help you to handle the situations and issues that go hand-in-hand with memory decline.
Talk to a memory care professional. The expert can provide you with a general background on your spouse's disease/condition and help you to find other educational resources.
Does your spouse require specialized memory care? Contact Oakridge Gardens Rehabilitation & Memory Care Center for more information.