Learning experiences for new dementia caregivers

Have you recently become a caregiver for someone with dementia? As we get older, most of us will likely need assistance from family and friends, but providing memory care for seniors comes with a specific set of challenges. In this article, we’ll discuss several common learning experiences you’ll probably go through while caring for someone with dementia. We hope this helps you feel confident in your caregiving abilities and strengthens the bond between you and your senior loved one.

Accept the fact that you’ll make mistakes

Providing memory care doesn’t come with an official rule book, and no two people experience dementia in the same way. This means we’re all learning as we go along, trying our best, and accepting that we’ll make mistakes is the first step in having a healthy outlook.

Rather than being too hard on yourself or dwelling on your mistakes, which isn’t helpful for anyone involved, remind yourself that mistakes are actually learning experiences and simply move forward. 

Take notes as you go

Keeping a caregiver journal is an excellent way to help you manage your feelings, emotions, struggles, and victories. It’s also an effective way to track your challenges, including the details of each situation, so you can avoid repeating the same incident in the future. It can be difficult for us to think clearly in the heat of the moment, so writing it all down and reviewing it once things have calmed down is a great tool to help you see what might be done differently next time. You may have epiphanies that benefit you in your caregiving journey. 

Focus on lessons learned, not what went wrong

We’re all hard on ourselves when things don’t go the way we want them to go. Instead of beating yourself up and dwelling on what went wrong, we recommend asking yourself these questions:

  • What went well in this situation?
  • What did I learn?
  • What are the positive aspects of this situation?

Find a senior community nearby and learn from them

The expression, “it takes a village” isn’t only applicable to children. Caring for a senior with dementia requires support from a network of family and friends, and it’s important to realize that you’re not expected to do everything by yourself. 

In addition to leaning on loved ones for help, we recommend joining a local caregiver support group. They’ll be uniquely positioned to understand the challenges you’re facing, and members likely have valuable advice to share. Plus, just knowing that others are going through a difficult situation that is similar to your own can often ease the burden. 

We know it’s not always easy to be positive and feel optimistic when caring for your loved one with dementia. The pressure and the challenges often lead you to being hard on yourself even though you’re trying your best. 

It’s important to recognize when you and your family are no longer able to provide adequate care for your loved one. With busy lives and commitments to work, school, and raising kids, it may be time to consider moving your senior loved one into a designated memory care neighborhood where you know they’ll be safe and well taken care of around the clock. If you’d like to learn more about UMC’s memory care neighborhoods across New Jersey, please give us a call today or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/alzheimers-memory-care/

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