Do you have a friend with memory issues, Alzheimer’s, or dementia? If so, it can be a struggle continuing a friendship and ensuring that your friend stays safe and healthy. Senior housing, such as a memory care community, could be the best place for your friend. If it is, it can be hard to stay strong for your friend with memory impairments. Our memory care communities at HarborChase Senior Living have had so many of our residents experience this transition and have had friends and family who have dealt with it on their terms. One of our primary goals is to enlighten friends and close relatives on how to deal with loved ones in memory care.
How to Work Through It
The first bit of advice to anyone dealing with someone close to them in memory care is to remind yourself not to give up hope! The person you care about is still there, they just experience waves of impairment - and that is no one’s fault.
The best way to deal with a close friend or family member transitioning to a memory care community is to visit them. You can also make them a keepsake to ignite memories – a framed photo with your name, a scrapbook, or a heartfelt letter. Be sure to plan fun activities together to keep your friendship strong. Also, remind yourself that if they forget you or act negatively to your presence, that it is just the disease manipulating their reality. If things do start to weigh you down, there are multiple support groups and specialists available for you to talk to.
It may also help you work through this change to know you are not alone.
My sister is my best friend. Before we discovered The Cove, I may have said she was my best friend. I feel like it all happened so fast. Senior housing was not even a thought in our minds three years ago. We were 74 and 77 years young and still actively enjoying life! Then things changed, she changed…
It all started with mood swings and memory lapses. She began misplacing things, and if I brought the repeat offenses to her attention, she would become so cold to me. The mood swings were getting more intense and more often. She started forgetting things such as how to work the microwave or where our prayer group was meeting. I was so afraid for her to go to the doctor about her increasing issues because our mother had passed away from Alzheimer’s. When she finally got the diagnosis, my heart broke, and I thought her life was coming to an abrupt end.
Thank my lucky stars, that was not the case! I decided it was best for her to move into a memory care community with HarborChase and I made it my sisterly duty not to treat her different than I had before she started declining. And it made a difference. I made her a scrapbook of our adventures with captions to remind her of me. On good days, she remembers. Not every day is a good day - but, I have hope! My sister is my sister no matter what, and she is going to be for a very long time!
Benefits of Staying Strong
We love having a positive impact on our residents and their loved ones! We also have seen time and time again that continuing your relationship with someone who develops memory impairment is one of the best things for them. Having a person that tethers them to a reality before dementia or Alzheimer’s can help them hold on to it. Having conversations about past “adventures” is a great way to jog that person’s memories.
So, if you find yourself visiting a dear friend in a memory care community, do not let your emotions get the best of you. Stay secure in knowing that doing so will benefit their health in the long run. There are millions of others going through the same thing you are if you can find comfort in knowing you are not alone. If you still need the extra support, there are options out there for you, such as support groups. Do not give up hope! Sometimes you find strength where you least expect it.
Do you someone close to you with memory impairments? HarborChase Senior Living is here to listen, comment your story below!