7 Ways to Educate Your Family About Memory Loss

Educate Your Family About Memory Loss

Experts on memory loss agree that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss affect the entire family, not just the person diagnosed. Everyone feels the stress of watching – and caring for – their loved one’s progressive decline. If you are the primary caregiver for someone with memory loss, the responsibility of educating your family and close friends, as well as keeping them updated on your loved one’s condition, usually falls on you.

According to Polly West, Executive Director at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, an Assisted Senior Care and Memory Care community in Nicholasville, KY, as the caregiver, you are likely to be the family’s main source of information about memory loss. “The best thing caregivers can do is educate themselves on memory loss as much as possible,” says West. “They can then help their family members understand their loved one’s disease and its symptoms. A full awareness of the nature of memory loss also makes it easier for everyone to interact well with their loved one and make smart decisions about their care.”

The “New Normal”: Family Life with Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Part of living well with Alzheimer’s is adjusting to your ‘new normal’ and helping family and friends do the same.” Accepting memory loss as part of your family’s reality is the first step to providing great care. 

Each person may react differently to your loved one’s disease. Some family members may struggle to adjust, either by shying away from the loved one or denying the severity of their condition. If you need advice on dealing with difficult reactions, the Alzheimer’s Association has helpful guidance on their webpage, “Resolving Family Conflicts.”

You can help your family adjust to your loved one’s memory loss by teaching them about the disease. The more they know, the easier it will be for them to understand what your loved one is going through. They’ll also know how to help you deal with the challenges of caregiving.

Ideas on How to Educate Your Family

1. Disclose the Disease – It’s important to let your family and close friends know about your loved one’s memory loss. The urge to keep the news of the diagnosis to yourself is understandable, but it’s best for your loved one – and you – if your family is aware. When the opportunity arises, calmly share the news. Consider this a good time to educate them on what to expect now and as the condition progresses. Letting others know is very beneficial for you as the caregiver – you shouldn’t have to go through this all alone. 

2. Be Honest and Open – Honesty is the best policy when it comes to sharing information with your family. You may be tempted to sugarcoat your loved one’s condition, but be completely honest about the progressive nature of memory loss and how it will affect your loved one as time goes on. Keeping everyone on the same page helps family members know what to expect, and they’ll be better prepared to do what’s best for your loved one. 

3. Encourage Positive Interactions – The changes occurring for your loved one are likely to be upsetting and frustrating, so it’s common for those with memory loss to be easily agitated. Teach your family how to act around your loved one to create a calm atmosphere. Warn them against correcting your loved one when they make a mistake, showing impatience or doing anything that might aggravate or over-stimulate your loved one.

4. Teach Effective Communication Skills – Educate friends and family members, especially those who don’t visit often, on the best ways to communicate with your loved one. Suggest that they speak slowly and clearly and always make eye contact when they’re speaking. Explain that they may have to remind your loved one of who they are.

5. Ensure Pleasant Visits – Schedule visits during the times when your loved one is usually at their best. Help your family interact with your loved one by staying relaxed and encourage them to do something enjoyable together, such as watching a favorite movie, looking through an old photo album or talking a walk. Let friends and family know what your loved one is still able to do. If necessary, ask them to respect your loved one’s personal space and not to talk to them as if they were a child.

6. Explain Alzheimer’s to Children – As with everyone else, it’s important to be honest with children about the changes memory loss will bring. Try to explain the disease as best you can in a way that’s appropriate for the child’s age, and be open to any questions they might ask. Encourage them to ask questions at any time or talk to you about how they feel.

Children may react differently based on their level of attachment to their loved one. Fear, shyness, sadness and anger are all possible. Let them know it’s okay to feel upset, and help them express their feelings in healthy ways. Encourage them to stay involved in their loved one’s life by continuing to talk with them and doing activities together.

7. Tell Them How They Can Help – If family members or close friends are willing to help with caregiving tasks, let them! Some may look for ways to help you on their own, while others may prefer you ask them for specific things. For example, ask a willing sibling to pick up your loved one’s prescriptions each week, or give them a list of items you need from the store.

It’s important for you to have a team of helping hands when you’re caring for a loved one. As you coordinate your care team, consider using communication tools, like the Alzheimer’s Association’s Care Team Calendar, that keep everyone up-to-date on your loved one’s condition.

When your family is educated about memory loss and knows how to interact with your loved one, you all share a common goal of giving your loved one the best care possible. 

A Personal Approach to Memory Care

“At Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, we take our residents’ care – and the care of their families – very personally,” says West. “We believe that care and support from close friends and families are important for loved ones to live fulfilling days. We want to help families of loved ones with memory loss cope with the strains this disease brings into their lives.

“We host a varied range of educational events on memory care for family members at our community. From care tips to caregiver support, we’re always looking for ways to ease the burden of memory loss.

“Join us for one of our upcoming events, or learn more about how we care for those with memory loss at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods by visiting our website, http://www.BridgepointeAssistedCare.com. 

Live Life to the Fullest at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods

Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods is a Christian Care Community offering assisted senior care, memory care and adult day services. Located in Brannon Crossing, one of central Kentucky’s most desirable areas, Bridgepointe was designed to help families grow closer as they grow older. 

At Bridgepointe, residents enjoy the privacy and dignity of living in their own apartment as well as the peace of mind that comes from the support and assistance of a special team of caregivers. In short, we help our residents live life to its fullest.

Our community is designed to promote activity, interaction, socialization and enjoyment. We offer a variety of engaging activities daily, from yoga and tai chi to gardening and arts and crafts. At Bridgepointe, there’s never a dull moment and always something to do! 

Discover a rich and fulfilling lifestyle combined with personalized care and support delivered by a team of experienced professionals … all within a secure, elegantly appointed community.

We invite you to visit today and discover how Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods can change your life for the better!

To learn more, contact us today!