Then it’s time to re-ignite the spark with your loved one with memory loss. And yes, it is possible. It starts with acceptance – you need to grieve and mourn the loss of who the person was and the relationship you shared. Then begin to enjoy the little nuggets of joy and embrace the new relationship you now have – you can find a spark no matter what stage of memory loss the person is in.
It can be emotionally draining watching your loved one struggle to remember and communicate. As hard as it may seem, try to find the positives. Being able to laugh at things even when you are sad helps. So, take a deep breath and forget about how difficult the situation is and start enjoying the little moments – those count the most.
Discovering the spark for people with dementia can bring the caregiver twice as much joy. But how do you do that? Our Life Care Managers recommend reading Jolene Brackey’s “Moments of Joy” for tangible opportunities to find joy. They also suggests reliving old stories and looking through photo albums, both of which help the person remember, even if for a moment – try Reminisce Magazine for great photos that take people back to older times. Try capturing their stories as legacies you can re-tell over and over. Listen to music, exercise any way you want, modify games to play, or color! It may seem childlike but craft stores and online resources offer adult coloring pages with pictures of landscapes and food.
Some may be thinking, “What’s the point, they don’t remember anyway.” The point is – it’s not about remembering but spending joyful moments together. To change the experience, we must change how we view memory loss and other issues. They are people who still have purpose and passion but struggle with how to tell us – we are the ones who have to help them get there. Purpose and passion still exists even for those with memory loss. And studies have shown that positive stimulation can reduce agitation and other behavior issues.
So what’s worked for you? Take a moment and share with others how you are sparking the life of someone living with memory loss. How has it changed your life?