For adult children and loved ones, facing the changes dementia and Alzheimer’s presents can be devastating. Abrupt changes in mood, odd behavior, and the loss of precious memories can be challenging to watch. You might be unsure how to interact with your loved one. Here are some things to consider when your loved one no longer remembers who you are.
Don’t question them
Often, the first thing family members want to do when a parent or loved one cannot remember their name is to continue asking. “Do you know who I am?” “Do you remember me?”. However, repeated questioning can cause those who have dementia to become more confused or start to panic. These questions might make you, as an adult child, feel better, but they can only worsen a situation for your loved one. Their memory recall is not as fast as ours, and often in a hurry, they will answer, “I don’t know.” Another helpful tactic is to reintroduce yourself to your parent when it merely happens. “Hi, I’m John. I’m your son,” for example.
Focus on fond memories – and making new ones.
Even if your parent struggles to recall names and faces, they are still the same person they once were. It can be beneficial for everyone to spend time reminiscing about fond memories you both share. Try not to bombard them with too many specific questions and instead let them guide you through their memories. It’s essential to ask broad, leading questions that can help trigger their memories. Many people living with dementia remember their childhood and young adult lives quite vividly. It might be helpful to look at old photos or ask them about family vacations or traditions.
Stay in the moment
Spending quality time together will help your loved one with dementia feel more secure. Doing things they enjoy or that you share is a great way to strengthen your relationship and provide them with confidence and a renewed sense of self.
It can be easy to get caught up with worry for your parent with dementia, but it is crucial to take the time to check in to make sure you are okay. If you aren’t looking after yourself, how can you look after someone else? It is vital to seek out professional support when you need it, from licensed professional caregivers or other adult children of people with dementia who might share your same frustrations and concerns.