If someone you care about has been diagnosed with Dementia, you may feel a mixture of different emotions. You could experience a sense of loss, frustration, sadness, and apprehensiveness about the future. Perhaps you have trouble knowing how to relate to someone whose personality seems to be so different than it used to be. You’re not alone. These feelings you’re dealing with are completely normal. Listed below are some ways you can continue to maintain a relationship with your loved one who has Dementia.

Recognize a Change in Roles

As the disease progresses, if you’re the person in closest relationship to the patient, you’ll transition more and more into the role of a caregiver. This means you’ll need to help the person with their life responsibilities, such as chores, shopping, and finances. Eventually, you’ll probably need to move from assisting to completely taking care of these tasks. The best way to move into this new role smoothly is to make sure you’re ready in advance. Find out where all of their important legal and financial documents are located, such as insurance policies, retirement accounts, and property deeds. Don’t hesitate to seek out professional legal help from a community resource center or an attorney who is well versed in elder law.

Seek Help from a Social Support Network

Sometimes friends and family will begin to avoid the person with Dementia, as well as their caregiver. This isolation can cause tension between the dementia patient and their caregiver, who will sometimes begin to feel trapped and all alone. Though friends and family pulling away during this time can feel extremely hurtful, it’s likely that they do still care deeply about your loved one with dementia. They just not know how to relate to them and be afraid that they’ll say or do something wrong. Instead of lashing out at or withdrawing further from friends and family who seem to be abandoning you, reach out to them. Try to inform them about the disease so they’ll know what to expect when they come for a visit. Let them know that you want their love and support at this difficult time. Having their support will not only help to strengthen you personally, but it will also bolster your relationship to your loved one with dementia.

Consider Enlisting Professional Help

At some stage during their illness, you may need to call on professional help for your loved one. You could enlist a home health care service. If they require round the clock care, you may want to arrange for placement in a senior living facility that specializes in care for dementia patients. These centers can provide everything from daily hygiene care to nutritious meals to medical care. They often even have activities that are tailored to the varying mental and physical ability levels of their patients. Having compassionate, knowledgeable caregivers available to attend to many of your loved one’s needs can take much of the stress out of your relationship. It will free you up to be able to spend quality time with them while someone else takes care of routine daily tasks involved in their care.

Learn to Accept the Loss of Your Former Way of Life Together

You may find yourself grieving the loss of physical and emotional intimacy with a spouse or loved one with dementia. You don’t need to feel guilty for feeling the way you do in this situation. As a caregiver, you may not feel attracted to your spouse with dementia in the same sense that you were earlier in your life. This doesn’t make your love and commitment to them any less real. If you’re having trouble dealing with these or any of the changes that are taking place, meet with a support group or an experienced counselor.
Watching the impact of Dementia on someone close to you isn’t easy. That’s why it’s important to get all the help you can to support you in your role as a caregiver. All of these suggestions could help you to maintain a meaningful relationship with your loved one who has Dementia.

Author's Bio: 

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan