In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a person who has it may not be able to remember familiar people, places or things. Situations involving memory loss and confusion can be extremely difficult for caregivers, and require much patience and understanding. The main underlying cause of memory loss and confusion is the progressive damage to brain cells caused by Alzheimer’s disease. In the earlier stages, memory loss and confusion may be mild. The person with dementia may be aware of and frustrated by the changes taking place, such as difficulty recalling recent events, making decisions or processing what was said by others. In the later stages, memory loss becomes far more severe. A person may not recognize family members, may forget relationships or call family members by other names. These changes are some of the most painful for caregivers and families. Here are some ways on how to respond to the person with Alzheimer’s that is under your care, especially when confusion and memory loss situations occur:
- Stay Calm: Although being called by a different name or not being recognized can be painful, try not to make your hurt apparent.
- Respond with a Brief Explanation: Don’t overwhelm them with lengthy statements or reasons. Just clarify with a simple explanation.
- Show Photos and Other Reminders: Use photographs and other though-provoking items to remind them of important relationships and places.
- Travel with the Person to Places Where They have Been: If their memory is focused on a particular time in their life, engage them in conversation about recollections with an understanding that this is their current reality.
- Offer Corrections as Suggestions: Try to avoid explanations that sound like scolding. Try: “I thought it was a fork” or “I think she is your granddaughter Julie”.
- Try not to take it personally: Alzheimer’s disease causes your loved one to forget, but your support and understanding will continue to be appreciated.
While it can be painful when the person you are taking care of starts to forget important things, such as your name, hopefully these tips will help you know how to respond to your loved one when memory loss and confusion occurs, and make these situations easier for the both of you.