Missing the loved one who is gone, but still living with you!
When a person has dementia and there is a close family member living with them or nearby, the family member can still remember their shared memories, the wonderful and sometimes awful things they did together. But the person with dementia can’t remember them.
Christmas is a difficult time of year, often for lots of people both with and without disabilities and/or dementia. It should be a time for family and time together, it can be work and hassle and when a person’s loved one has dementia, the carer goes through these roller coaster of emotions on their own and yet still with someone else being there. Being alone with other people there can feel lonelier than just being by ourselves.
Christmas (and other times of get-together and celebration) should be about memory building, which is often about sharing the memory and studies have shown that significant events are more significant when they are shared. The inability to memory build and importantly share those memories detracts from what is happening and can make the carer feel the loss of the person or personality that they used to be.
I have recently dealt with a family and have seen them a number of times, the person with dementia remembers the word “Hilary”, but doesn’t always associate it with me, so will moan about something that they think I’ve done, to me, not realising it is me! But when I’m there, I am always associated with being kind and gentle, they don’t get angry with me. The situation is funny! Emotional memory works like long term memory and something with strong emotion attached can be remembered when other things have gone.
So if you are a carer living through losing the person and losing those situations with shared memories, be kind to yourself in the loss and sometimes frustration you feel, caring is both immensely rewarding and hard going at times as well. If you know someone who is a carer, have compassion for the difficulties and stresses they might be going through. Caring for someone is a very intimate experience, being with and supporting a person at their most vulnerable and at the same time soul destroying as that person slowly slips away from them.
I wish peace and wellbeing to everyone.