The caregiver journey is a challenging and emotionally complex experience, especially when a loved one is experiencing memory loss.
Caring for someone with dementia entails witnessing the gradual loss of their cognitive abilities, memories, and independence.
This ongoing process can trigger various emotions in caregivers, including grief, sadness, frustration, guilt, and anxiety.
Caregivers may grieve the loss of the person they once knew, the changing dynamics in their relationship, and the life they envisioned for themselves and their loved ones.
Kensington Place Redwood City hosts in-person event
In hopes of supporting caregivers and helping them recognize and combat grief, Kensington Place Redwood City hosted the event, “Dementia & Unacknowledged Grief: A Guide to Caring for the Family Caregiver,” on July 20.
Led by Nina Poletika, LMFT, CT, Counseling Psychologist specializing in caregiving loss and grief, this presentation sheds light on why caregivers may experience grief, even when their loved ones with Alzheimer’s are still alive.
Nina dug into the various losses caregivers face, including communication, companionship, intimacy, roles, and relationships. She explored how these losses can trigger grief and provide valuable insights into remaining energized while shouldering relentless responsibilities.
Additionally, Nina discussed strategies to ease the pain of ongoing loss and navigate the discomfort that comes with a shift in identity.
Navigating the stages of Dementia
As the caregiver of a loved one with dementia, it can feel like you’re experiencing their condition with them.
The emotional toll of caregiving requires special attention to mental well-being. Better understanding the disease can bring the caregiver closer to the loved one that they’re caring for.
Changes in behavior and personality are common in different stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia. But typical changes can be expected in each stage, along with suggestions on navigating these unexpected and troubling changes in a loved one.
- Memory loss: Difficulty remembering recent events, appointments, or conversations
- Use memory aids like calendars, reminder notes, and digital devices.
- Encourage your loved one to engage in mentally stimulating activities and exercises.
- Mood Swings: Frequent mood changes, irritability, and increased anxiety
- Be patient and understanding, providing a calm and reassuring presence.
- Encourage participation in enjoyable activities and maintain a routine.
- Social Withdrawal: Decreased interest in socializing
- Plan small gatherings or outings with familiar and supportive individuals.
- Engage your loved one in activities they enjoy and promote social interactions.
- Agitation and Aggression: Restlessness, verbal or physical aggression, agitation
- Create a calm and safe environment, removing potential triggers.
- Practice redirection techniques and engage in calming activities like listening to music or gentle exercise.
- Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care methods allow our team to provide the best support for those in all stages of memory loss
- Communication Challenges: Difficulty finding the right words, repeating questions
- Use simple and clear language, giving ample time for response.
- Utilize non-verbal communication, such as visual cues and gestures.
- Wandering: Aimless walking, becoming disoriented or lost.
- Ensure a secure and monitored environment using locks and alarms.
- Establish a daily routine and engage in regular physical activity to reduce restlessness.
- Incontinence: Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Provide a consistent toileting schedule and use appropriate protective measures.
- Practice patience, maintain their dignity, and provide gentle assistance.
- Sundowning: Increased confusion, restlessness, and agitation in the late afternoon or evening
- Establish a calming routine before bedtime, such as dimming lights and engaging in soothing activities.
- Minimize noise and other stimuli during the evening hours.
- Loss of Motor Skills: Difficulty walking, sitting, swallowing, and coordination
- Ensure a safe environment, removing obstacles and using assistive devices as necessary.
- Seek assistance from healthcare professionals for physical therapy or occupational therapy.
Strategies for addressing unacknowledged grief
Watching the person you love progress through Alzheimer’s and dementia can be just as emotionally taxing as it is to physically take care of them. It can’t be stressed enough how important self-care for caregivers is and reaching out for support.
Foster an environment with open and honest communication where you and your loved one can express your emotions and concerns without judgment. They are your loved one for a reason, no matter how difficult this journey may be for both of you.
Join the monthly caregiver support groups at Kensington Place Redwood City with an experienced professional specializing in dementia care.
We share valuable resources, tools, and approaches to help you navigate the caregiving journey more confidently and resiliently.
Education and resources
Seek out education on dementia and the emotional impact it has on the individual and those around them.
Check out Kensington Konnect to find informative, entertaining, and fun resources. After all, caregivers are still allowed to have fun even when they’re experiencing grief.
Prioritize self-care and seek respite and support when needed. Taking care of your emotional well-being is crucial to providing effective care and support to your loved one with dementia.
When to consider a memory care community for your loved one
Deciding when to consider a memory care community for your loved one with dementia is a significant decision that depends on several factors.
If your loved one’s safety is at risk due to wandering, forgetting to turn off appliances, or being unable to perform daily tasks independently, a memory care community with secure environments and a trained team can provide a safer living environment.
Increased care needs
As the progression of dementia continues, your loved one may require more specialized care and assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.
Kensington Place Redwood City has a team experienced in providing dementia-specific care and provides ongoing training for team members.
If caregiving responsibilities have become overwhelming, affecting your physical and emotional well-being, it may be a sign that it’s time to consider a memory care community.
If you are unable to provide the level of care your loved one needs due to personal limitations, such as work obligations, health issues, or distance, a specialized community such as Kensington Place Redwood City can be your partner in professional care and support.
If your loved one exhibits challenging behaviors associated with dementia, such as aggression, severe agitation, or sundowning, managing these behaviors at home may be difficult.
The Kensington Place Redwood City team is trained in handling challenging behaviors and creating a calm environment. At our community, we follow the Positive Approach to Care model, which follows techniques and methods that align with Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. This training offers a person-centered approach that allows us to better care for our residents and supports them through each stage of their memory disease.
If your loved one is becoming socially isolated due to the progression of dementia, our memory care community can provide opportunities for social engagement and interaction with peers who are experiencing similar challenges.
Kensington Place Redwood City offers a calendar full of life-enrichment activities, dance classes, music therapy, a horticulture club, friends and family movie nights, and a cozy living space for residents to engage in activities and socialize.
A decline in overall health
If your loved one’s overall health is declining, and their medical needs are becoming more complex, a memory care community can offer access to healthcare professionals who specialize in dementia care, ensuring their medical needs are appropriately addressed.
Transitioning your loved one can give you the time and space you need to properly grieve.
A community where you and your loved one can thrive
When it comes to providing exceptional dementia care, Kensington Place Redwood City is a premier choice.
With its specialized memory care programs, dedicated care providers, comprehensive services, commitment to education and community, and emphasis on enhancing the quality of life—Kensington Place Redwood City stands out as a trusted and compassionate resource for individuals with dementia and their families.
Our two neighborhoods, Connections and Haven, allow those in the midst of early or late-stage memory loss to have the loving care that will best fit their level of need.
To maintain Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own, we provide professional, loving medical care, comfort, and understanding.
When you join our family, your loved one will receive:
- Around-the-clock care
- Medication and diabetes management, with injections by licensed professionals
- On-site rehabilitation through Select Rehabilitation
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Life-enrichment activities
- Exquisite dining services
- Specialty diets
- Extensive support programs including wheelchair assistance, two-person or three-person assists, wound care, and hospice
As a caregiver, you’ll gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your loved one is properly cared for. You may even get to strengthen the bond with your loved one in the comfort of their new community.