The Best Steps to Take When Mom Doesn’t Remember
BY TRACY LAYDEN
Seeing mom struggle with Alzheimer’s and memory loss is not an easy thing. Being a caregiver requires an incredible amount of patience and strength, but there are things you can do to make it a little easier.
Practice Responding in Helpful Ways
You may not be able to control what is happening to Mom, but you can practice controlling your reactions so that Mom stays calm.
- Be understanding and forgiving. No one is perfect. You are going to get frustrated and maybe even mad. But accidents happen. Try not to blame Mom – that will just make her upset. Instead, try to recognize why stuff happens and see if you can prevent it in the future.
- She may not remember you, but she still knows you. Alzheimer’s may cause Mom to not recognize you. That can be very painful. But even if she forgets where and when she is, you can still reminisce about the past and spend quality time with her.
- Use simple words and a calm tone of voice. Alzheimer’s might cause Mom to be agitated and irritable, so it’s important to speak simply and clearly. Avoid being patronizing or authoritative. Mom will still recognize when she’s being talked down to.
Create Consistency Around The House
Make life a little easier for Mom by creating a place for everything and a clear schedule for her to follow.
- Keep her belongings in the same place. Make mornings and nights go a little easier by having everything laid out and clearly labeled for Mom to find.
- Create a daily schedule for Mom. Maintain the same mealtime routine, and set her TV to play her favorite shows at the same time each day.
- Set realistic goals and focus on what you can do. Nobody said caring for Mom would be easy. You won’t be able to do everything. Do what you can and if something becomes too difficult, allow yourself to take a break and try again later.
Reach Out for Help When Things Become Too Difficult
Being a caregiver is hard. You are strong, but you don’t have to go through this experience alone. There is no shame on leaning on your support system.
- Ask your family for help. Mom having Alzheimer’s is often a source of family tension, but you need to reach out to your family and try to keep them involved. Ask them to share responsibilities. As a team, you will be stronger than any one of you alone.
- Reach out to your community. Whether you are part of a church, book club, or neighborhood watch, don’t let your connections to your community fade. Spending time with those that care for you is important to your mental health. You’ll be better equipped to spend time with Mom after recharging with your friends.
- Join a support group. You are not the only one going through this. Reach out to local support groups for people in similar situations. You can share advice, horror stories, or simply compare notes. It can lift the weight off your shoulders to know you are not alone.
Find Joy in the Little Things
Mom may have Alzheimer’s, but she’s still your Mom. Her condition doesn’t mean there can’t be times of laughter and joy. You’ll certainly go through hard times, but it is important to both look for and create those small moments of happiness to hold close to your heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.
More Stories from Our Caregiving Community
Seeing the personality and whole being erased in loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease can be a heart-wrenching experience. Mental health expert Maria Aranda, executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, doesn’t want you to go through it alone. The...read more
Caregivers on double-duty are perpetually exhausted and frequently report feeling like they are not doing anything quite “right.” Managing both career and the needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia can feel impossible, especially on days when there’s an unexpected late meeting at work or dad has eloped from his assisted living community.read more
BY ANNE VON OEHSEN/SUZY LAFORGE “Please let me do it, so I can call it my own,” my mother spoke emphatically after I made the mistake of taking hold of her paintbrush. Sitting at my kitchen table, she was putting the finishing touches on a painting of a cerulean blue...read more