Dealing with Dementia: How To Handle Changes to Your Relationships
When someone you love is living with dementia, it can impact the dynamics of your family relationships. Conflicts can arise as your family faces changes to their roles and responsibilities, and navigating through these challenges can be difficult.
One of the most significant changes may be your relationship with the person living with dementia. For example, you and your mom may have been very close, but her dementia diagnosis causes her to look at you with confusion at times, as if she’s not sure who you are. While this can be incredibly emotional, you haven’t lost your relationship with your mother.
Here’s a situation Bella Groves’ Co-Founder and CEO, James Lee, experienced:
[A resident’s daughter once said,] “that’s not my dad anymore. Alzheimer’s has taken him from us. Now we don’t know what to do. He would never want to live in a facility – even one as nice as the one y’all have made here.”
I paused in case she had more to say. She looked up as if to ask me to break the silence.
“If your dad had cancer, he would still be your dad. If your dad broke his leg, he would still be your dad. Your dad’s brain is dying faster than the rest of him, but he is still your dad. He’s there.”
Her tears signaled her understanding and resolve. “Yes. He is.”
Dealing with dementia is difficult and emotional. Our mission at Bella Groves is to support you through it all and help you navigate the changes and challenges you may face.
Find New Ways to Communicate
Dementia is a progressive condition, so a person living with dementia will experience changes that can impact their language, memory, and other cognitive abilities. Over time, this can impact their ability to communicate.
If you and Mom used to have deep conversations, the changes she may experience in communication can be hard. However, accepting this change and adjusting the way you communicate with your mom allows for you to continue having a loving and meaningful relationship.
In our Go With The F.L.O.W.™ dementia care methodology, we highlight line of sight to encourage successful communication.
- Announce yourself gently and wait for their acknowledgment
- Always smile before making your approach to signal safety and positivity
- Position yourself to approach them directly (not from behind or the side)
- Get on their eye level and position yourself just off their dominant side
Once a conversation starts, maintain eye contact and speak slowly. Be patient and offer reassurance, as it may take a person living with dementia longer to respond to a question. Smile, and when possible, provide visual cues to assist the conversation.
Always Care with Dignity and Respect
You’ve looked up to your mom your whole life. You’ve relied on her as a pillar of strength when you’ve faced difficult times. You’ve always respected and treated her with the utmost dignity. And now that she’s living with dementia, this part of your relationship shouldn’t change.
As a dementia care partner, you play a vital role in helping her experience a complete and meaningful life. By treating her with dignity throughout the dementia care journey, you can nurture a trusting, healthy, and joyful relationship. We encourage you to read our blog, Dementia Care: Preserving Dignity and Respect, to learn how to maintain a person’s dignity while providing dementia care.
Continue to Learn and Grow
Bella Groves is committed to being a trusted resource for dementia education and care. We provide services for care partners, families, and professionals to understand dementia and the challenges it can create for the family dynamic.
Our Level 1: Learning Center offers educational articles, easy training modules, and guides to help individuals understand the progressive effects of dementia and provide a clear path to creating a loving and understanding environment for their families.
Educating yourself on dementia can help you better understand what a person living with dementia is going through and how to maintain a relationship of love and unconditional joy.
Be Open to Support
In many cases, dementia care is a 24/7 job, which can lead family care partners to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or emotional. It’s normal to feel this way. While you love Mom with all your heart, you are only human, and in order to provide her with the best care, you need to prioritize your own health and wellness.
In these moments, it’s important to remember, you are not alone. We’ve created a community at Bella Groves so that no person impacted by dementia ever feels alone or isolated. Whether it’s a support group where families can share their feelings or ask questions, or our residential care community in Bulverde, where families can have peace of mind knowing their family member is safe and cared for, we are here to help you navigate your dementia care journey.
When dealing with dementia, we have to remember that dementia is an illness, but the person we love is still there. Bella Groves is here to help you on your dementia care journey from day one. We provide varying levels of services and support so that families have the tools and confidence to work through the challenging times and create more moments of unconditional joy.