Over time the relationship between your loved one and you changes from one of mutual give and take to one of you giving but not receiving. As you identify more with your caregiver role you become more task oriented. It is here that maintaining bonds in dementia care with your loved one can be very difficult. The bonds that once linked you, as spouses or parent and child, seem forgotten but they are not lost.
It is helpful when maintaining bonds in dementia care to pay attention to the “moments”: moments when eyes meet and smiles are reflected; moments when hands clasp and arms embrace; moments of silliness, laughter, and peacefulness together; and moments of kind words and endearments. You spend a lot of time in your caregiver role dutifully touching your love one, but your loved one may no longer be able to touch you lovingly – or know that you need it. A simple way of maintaining bonds in dementia care is to tell your loved one you need a hug or a shoulder rubbed.
Maintaining bonds in dementia care with family, friends, and community is very important to your caregiver role because they are your support system. Reach out with a quick call or text message to say you are thinking of them. Tell them know how they can help you in your caregiver role and then gratefully accept the help without guilt. Allowing them to see you in your caregiver role helps with maintaining bonds in dementia care.
Becoming knowledgeable about the disease, knowing what to expect and how to plan for the future, and learning how to effectively communicate and manage behaviors are essential skills for your caregiver role. Joining a support group and accessing community resources will also help you be successful in your caregiving role and promotes maintaining bonds in dementia care.
Mary C. Fridley RN, BSN, BC, VDT®-CT is a member of the Jenerations speakers bureau. She is a Registered Nurse board certified in gerontology with more than 30 years experience in the geriatric health field. She has been a consultant to families, businesses, and care facilities and has an expertise in dementia care. Mary is a successful caregiver advice columnist and former consultant to the Anne Arundel County, MD, Department of Aging and Disabilities, and a caregiver support group facilitator for 17 years. Mary speaks extensively on subjects related to dementia, eldercare, successful aging, and caregiver issues.