One of the harshest realities you will have to face as a loved one of someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of progressive dementia, is that some days they may not recognize you. This can be incredibly difficult for loved ones to handle and can even be hurtful. In fact, this is one of the most cited reasons for seeking outside care and support from family caretakers. At Serenity Gardens Memory Care Assisted Living centers, we have seen this unfortunate phenomenon over and over again. Fortunately, however, we have decades worth of memory care experience and can help you and your family through the regressive journey. Join us in today’s post as we review a few ways to cope when your loved one doesn’t recognize you.
1. Don’t take it personally.
Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and other forms of neurological memory disorders are much stronger than our will to remember. It is important to keep that in mind when your loved one doesn’t recognize you. It has nothing to do with how much time you spent together, how much they love you or you love them, or how significant your relationship was. Memory diseases have caused couples who have been married for 70+ years to no longer recognize each other, or even their own faces in the mirror — what a cruel disease process! To avoid feelings of hurt or grief, don’t take it personally. And, keep in mind, they may recall you tomorrow.
If you are their child or grandchild, they may mistake you for your parent if you look alike. Relish in the affection they give for being whoever they think you are.
2. Don’t force reminders.
It can be difficult to force memories by asking “how do you not remember me?” or reminding them of who you are. What you have to understand is that those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and the like is that the mind essentially travels backward in their lifespan. Their memories may simply be resting at a time where you did not exist. To attempt to force memories can be incredibly upsetting in a Truman Show type fashion.
3. Be present.
Despite whether they recognize you or remember the significance of each other in your lives, it is important to set aside your distraught feelings and simply be present. This is important for them (even if they don’t show it) as well as you. When they are gone, you’ll regret the time you didn’t spend with them simply because they didn’t remember who you are at the moment. Play the role of a guest visitor, a caretaker, or simply a new friend stopping by to say hi. Be present in their lives and you will be present in their mind, whether they can recall it or not.
4. Find support.
If you are not already in an Alzheimer’s support group, we highly recommend that you find one. Sharing your experiences with others in similar situations can help put you at ease and better cope with the progression of your loved one’s disease. You can also find support in online networking groups, your loved one’s memory care assisted living center’s staff, and your own extended family.
At Serenity Gardens in Dickinson, we are here to offer support to our residents and their families as our own family.
If you are struggling to come to terms with your loved one’s lack of recognizing you, reach out to our compassionate staff. We can offer you support and some tips for enhancing your relationship and coping with your loved one’s cognitive decline. Visit us online to learn more about memory care and contact us today.