Communication is one of the most complex things we do as humans. Of course, communication is about talking – trying to find the right words to express your ideas and interpreting the words of others. But communication also involves picking up on social and other cues – not to mention picking up on what’s not being said. We take all these tiny bits of information flying at us every millisecond to put together what we believe to be a coherent picture.
With such complex interactions, we’re bound to get it wrong from time to time. In most of our daily interactions, “getting it wrong” leads to minor miscommunications that are usually easily solved. (Hey, without misunderstandings, we wouldn’t have had Three’s Company...) But when a parent or loved one relies upon us for so much, “getting it right” suddenly becomes a whole lot more important.
Here are three ways you can improve your caregiver communications skills starting right...
The irony for most caregivers is that we don’t give enough care to ourselves. Our focus is ensuring we’re meeting the needs of our parent or loved one. In fact the very thought of doing something for ourselves feels somehow... selfish.
Here’s the fact though: not taking care of yourself is more selfish!
Being a caregiver requires a lot of our time and energy. Most of us also have other priorities – our own families, work, and other obligations. We are stretched so thinly that any little tear threatens to drop the whole load like an over-stretched trampoline.
When it gets to that point, we are literally not as effective as we could be – or should be – for our parent or loved one we are taking care of.
That’s why taking care of ourselves is so important. It’s better for our mental health. It’s better for those around us. And, it ultimately makes us a better caregiver. One note: although we talk about family caregivers here, all the...
A friend of mine told me that the moment she realized her father needed in-home care was the moment he set his housecoat on fire.
She laughed as she described it – the whole thing sounds like a sitcom episode with Fred Willard hilariously flaying about trying to douse the flames. Nobody was laughing at the time though – it was a big wake-up call for everyone.
The thing is, her father wasn’t doing anything unusual. He was cooking his breakfast as he did every morning. Somehow, part of the terrycloth touched the burner and the cotton just flared up.
Luckily, he put the flames out quickly and was okay. But I still wince to think how much worse it could have been. It left my friend a bit scared and confused as well. Suddenly she was faced with something we all dread: that moment when you realize the roles have reversed, and you are the one looking after your parents.
Reaching this level of understanding is difficult and often heart-wrenching. Too often, it takes a...
Will I Develop Alzheimer’s Disease Too?
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be emotionally, physically and mentally draining. It is also very common for caregivers and family members to worry about whether they will develop the disease themselves in the future.
The good news is that there is strong population-based evidence that certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing dementia by up to a half.
These ‘modifiable risk factors’ are currently the best known defense against future cognitive decline. As such, good self-care is especially critical for those caring for family members with Alzheimer’s.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
The science around Alzheimer’s disease is rapidly evolving, as scientists gain a clearer understanding of the processes and risk factors involved in the development of the disease.
This growing body of knowledge is paving the path to prevention, earlier detection, and new treatments....
6 Tips for Managing Dementia-Related Behaviours
While many of us think of memory loss as being the most distinctive characteristic of dementia, many other mental processes can be affected. Changes in behaviour and personality can be especially distressing to caregivers of loved ones with dementia, who may struggle to understand, manage, and come to terms with difficult new behaviours.
1. Monitoring Changes
Keep your loved one’s health care provider informed of changes in behaviour, as in some cases, there may be an underlying medical cause, or a specific treatment that can alleviate symptoms.
Keep a record of new behaviours with information such as the time of day, and circumstances under which the behaviour occurred. This may help you identify patterns and triggers that you can learn to work around together.
2. Go With the Flow
Be mindful that changes in behaviour and personality due to dementia are due to changes in the brain that are not within your loved one’s...