It’s difficult to watch loved ones struggle when dementia sets in. For those who are acting as caregivers, and for family members, the daily signs of dementia can be simultaneously shocking, heartbreaking, and frustrating. Many family members of dementia patients feel at a loss over how to handle their loved one’s needs, even with a physician’s guidance.
Research Regarding the Influence of Love on Dementia
It turns out that one of the best ways to help loved ones at risk for dementia, or with dementia is the simple emotion of love. New research has uncovered a direct influence of love on dementia. According to the report, the researcher’s findings of study participants that received positive support from adult children had a minimized risk of experiencing dementia.
The Challenge of Expressing Love to Those With Dementia
Anyone who has a family member with dementia understands how something as simple as showing love can be challenging. The particular aspects of this debilitating disease often result in distancing, hostility and angry outbursts. The distancing in relationships results from the terrible memory loss associated with dementia. Hostility and anger result from the patient’s frustration and confusion about daily events or their condition. The patient might break away from any signs of affection because they view the family member as a stranger. Or, they may resist attempts at affection in a bid to exert some control over their world. This makes it hard to express love to them in traditional ways.
How to Show Love to Loved Ones With Dementia
Love finds a way, however. There are many ways to express love in non-confrontational, passive ways that won’t frighten or confuse the dementia patient. The following ways are not only acts of a loving person; they will also help the bond to grow and remain strong between a loved one and their family members.
1. Fix meals that require a minimum of extra preparation.
For instance, chop and mix all the ingredients for a chicken salad. Place it in a clear, covered, non-breakable bowl with a bottle of salad dressing next to it inside the refrigerator. Your loved one will feel like they made their lunch, which enhances their feeling of independence.
2. Place signs on doors.
Help your loved one avoid the frustration of not remembering where the doors in the house lead to. Place simple signs on each door that make it easy for your loved one to get around. Signs like, “Back Yard,” “Front Yard,” “Bathroom,” “Jane’s Bedroom,” etc. will all help alleviate confusion and embarrassment over asking where a certain room is.
3. Wear nametags.
It may seem silly to wear a nametag at home. But a dementia patient with severe memory loss will appreciate seeing an identifier like, “Sarah. Your Daughter.” This will help them to keep a handle on who is living in the house with them, and why you’re there.
4. Offer but don’t insist.
Dementia develops in stages, and cognizance may come and go on an inconsistent basis. Some days your loved one may be capable of grooming themselves, for example, and on other days they may need help. You can show your love by offering to help, but be willing to back off they insist on doing it themselves, even if they’ve needed your help in the past.
Love comes in many forms. For those with dementia, sometimes that love has to be quiet and enduring. It may mean simply sitting in silence with a loved one, so they don’t feel alone, or tolerating a loud television or exercising patience over frustrating behavior. Love is patient; love is kind. In the case of dementia, Love is healing.