As our loved one’s age, it’s not uncommon for them to require specialized memory care to address cognitive issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Adult children of seniors in memory care neighborhoods often face a unique set of challenges as they navigate the emotional landscape of this phase in their parents’ lives. In addition, mental health issues can arise in seniors, which can cause a ripple effect on the people in their life. In this blog post, we’ll explore seven helpful mental health tips to help adult children maintain their well-being and build meaningful connections with their senior loved ones during this time.
Take Time to Maintain Your Mental Health
Caring for an aging parent can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s crucial to recognize that your mental health is just as important as the physical and mental well-being of your senior loved one. By prioritizing self-care and managing stress, you’ll be better equipped to support your parents and create a positive environment for all involved.
Identify Signs and Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Illnesses
Mental health issues are often underdiagnosed. Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders will help you recognize if you or a loved one is struggling. Symptoms can include changes in mood, appetite, or sleep patterns, feelings of hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. If you suspect that you or your loved one is experiencing mental health issues, consult with your doctor or your loved one’s healthcare team to determine the best course of action.
Learn How To Communicate Effectively With Senior Family Members
Effective communication is essential when dealing with aging parents, particularly those who have cognitive impairments. Be patient, listen actively, and ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation. If your loved one is struggling to express themselves, consider using visual aids, like photos or written notes, to help them communicate more effectively.
The best thing to do is choose a time when you’re both calm. Listen to their point, and then express the needs along with the benefits of care. Also, if the conversation leads to emotional outbursts, shift the conversation away from inflammatory topics.
Develop Strategies To Cope With Difficult Emotions
It’s natural to experience guilt or fear when visiting a parent in a memory care neighborhood. Recognize that these emotions are normal and develop coping strategies to address them. This may involve talking to a therapist, seeking support from friends or family, or engaging in activities that bring you joy and relief from stress.
Here are some strategies that can help you cope with the complex emotions you may be feeling:
- Talk with a trusted friend or counselor to explore and understand your feelings.
- Attend support groups for people coping with senior parents in memory care.
- Create a memory book, scrapbook, or photo album of the good times to look at and remember fondly. As a bonus, showing this to your loved one may help jog their memories!
- Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
- Spend time with friends and family that makes you feel better and provides understanding.
- Participate in activities that help soothe unpleasant emotions, such as hobbies like painting, reading, walking, or listening to music.
Find Ways To Build Meaningful Connections
Physical or cognitive limitations shouldn’t prevent you from maintaining a close relationship with your aging parent. Seek creative ways to engage with them, such as sharing stories, listening to music, or participating in activities that can be adapted to their abilities. Encourage your parents to express their emotions and be open to discussing their feelings, as this can help deepen your connection.
Here are some ways to build meaningful connections with your loved one:
- Visit regularly and set aside quality time together.
- Bring your loved one’s favorite photo albums, books, or music to share.
- Ask questions about their memories and experiences, and actively listen to the answers.
- Arrange outdoor activities such as walks in the park or visits to a nearby garden together.
- Participate in recreational activities provided by the memory care neighborhood, such as art classes, music therapies, group games, or storytelling sessions.
- Make sure to also include physical touch during your visits, such as hugs, pats on the back, hand-holding, and other appropriate expressions of affection.
Find Resources for Support
You don’t have to navigate the challenges of memory care alone. Seek out resources and support systems that cater to families in similar situations. Counseling services, online forums, and support groups can provide valuable insights and emotional support as you care for your aging parent.
Here are some resources that can provide support and guidance for families dealing with memory care:
- Alzheimer’s Association: A leading organization providing resources, support, and guidance for those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. They offer a 24/7 helpline, support groups, and educational programs.
- Website: https://www.alz.org/
- AARP Caregiving Resource Center: Offers information, tools, and tips for caregivers, including support for those caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Website: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/
- Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA): Provides services, education, and resources for family caregivers, including those caring for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Website: https://www.caregiver.org/
- Dementia Care Central: Offers resources for dementia caregivers, including information on support groups, online forums, and caregiving tips.
- Website: https://www.dementiacarecentral.com/
- AgingCare: An online community where caregivers can connect, share experiences, and access resources for caring for aging loved ones, including those with memory issues.
- Website: https://www.agingcare.com/
- National Institute on Aging (NIA): Provides information on Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias, and caregiving, as well as a list of resources and support services.
- Caregiver Action Network (CAN): Offers education, peer support, and resources for family caregivers, including those caring for individuals with memory disorders.
- Website: https://caregiveraction.org/
- Memory Care Forums: Online discussion boards where caregivers can ask questions, share experiences, and connect with others in similar situations.
- Example: https://www.alzconnected.org/
- Local Support Groups: Reach out to local organizations, hospitals, or senior centers to find support groups for caregivers of individuals with memory disorders.
Don’t forget: the team at Ingleside is here to support you. We have resources to support from education, social day programs for engagement and memory support assisted living residences. Please reach out to our compassionate and knowledgeable team members if you have any questions, feel lost, or just want to find some support. Memory Care – Washington, DC Metro Area – Ingleside Retirement Communities (inglesideonline.org)
Utilize Relaxation Techniques, Such as Mindfulness Meditation
Caring for a loved one in memory care can be emotionally taxing. Make time for relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, to help reduce stress levels and maintain your mental health. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you’ll be better equipped to handle the emotional demands of caring for your aging parent.
In summary, maintaining your mental health as the adult child of a senior adult in memory care is a challenging aspect of the caregiving journey. By understanding the importance of mental health, identifying signs of mental illnesses, communicating effectively, coping with difficult emotions, building meaningful connections, seeking resources for support, and utilizing relaxation techniques, you can better manage the challenges associated with memory care and create a loving, supportive environment for your senior loved one. Embrace this journey with patience, understanding, and compassion, knowing that your dedication and love make a significant difference in the life of your aging parent.
Additionally, it’s vital to embrace creativity when connecting with your aging parent. Explore different ways to engage with them, even if they face physical or cognitive limitations. This will allow you to continue building a strong bond and make the most of your time together.
Don’t hesitate to seek support when needed. Reach out to counseling services, online forums, and support groups to connect with others facing similar challenges. Sharing your experiences and learning from others can be invaluable as you navigate the complexities of memory care.
Lastly, make relaxation and stress management a priority. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine to help maintain your mental well-being. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to care for your aging loved one in memory care.
As you continue to navigate the journey of caring for an aging parent in memory care, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. At Ingleside, we’re here to support you and your family. We invite you to contact us to get in touch with our team of dedicated professionals. We’re ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have, provide resources, and help you make the best decisions for your loved one’s care.