Dentures in the silverware drawer. A favorite trinket hidden behind a stack of books. Hearing aids buried deep in a trash can. There’s no limit to where some people with dementia will hide their belongings to keep them out of the hands of “thieves.” And, when they can’t find their possessions later, family members are often the prime suspects.
Is your loved one insisting that it’s time to visit their sibling who has long since passed away? Are you finding yourself bracing to break the news to them…again? Unfortunately, for seniors living with dementia, this is a common occurrence. But each time you break the news to them, it can feel like the first time they are hearing it, bringing about fresh grief every time, making it extremely painful for them and nearly as painful for you.
Your father calls for you – repeatedly -- in the middle of the night because, apparently, he thinks you hate sleep. Your mother interrupts you every ten minutes, insisting she needs the bathroom because, apparently, she thinks you could use the exercise. You, of course, answer their calls every time because every time could be the time Dad fell or Mom has to go. But why do they cry wolf?
Sleep issues are a common occurrence for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Unfortunately, they then become an issue for caregivers and everyone else involved in the care of the individual. When the person you’re caring for doesn’t sleep well, you don’t sleep well, which makes everyone involved tired, cranky and overall not in their best form. “Sleep plays an important role in cognitive function,” says Robin Crum, Executive Director of YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, FL.
According to sexual rights educator Robin Dessel, the older a person gets, the more affection they need. “There’s no less desire or need for camaraderie, intimacy and touch as we age,” she explains. “In fact, loneliness is one of the foremost causes of depression in the elderly.” So how do spouses – especially those dealing with loss, anger, embarrassment, anxiety or frustration – stay connected when their relationship is constantly changing due to dementia?
Those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia face a wide range of emotions. After all, caring for someone with memory loss can be scary, frustrating, agitating and overwhelming. Helping your loved one manage their many emotions while trying to manage your own can be downright stressful. Learning how to manage your emotions early on can help to alleviate some pressure and create better days for both you and your loved one, but when you aren’t sure where to start, it can seem daunting.
When you have a parent whose health just isn't what it used to be, you may become concerned that they will begin to need some level of extra care. While this is often normal as parents age, some may not accept they need added care and deny it whenever the subject comes up. This can be both concerning and frustrating for adult children who recognize the need, but it is important to try to understand their point of view and fears, as this can be a difficult time for them.