If you are a caregiver to an aging loved one with dementia, it can be challenging to remember to communicate with your family about your loved one. Family members want to stay informed about the care of their loved one, and if you are the primary caregiver, that is your responsibility. Here is a list of some ways to open up effective communication with your family:
- Do not be afraid to ask for or accept an offer of help. Many caregivers feel that they have to take care of all of their loved one’s needs, as well as the needs of the rest of their family and friends. This is simply not true. Caregiving is one of the most rewarding as well as one of the most difficult things you will ever do in your life and it can be overwhelming. If a family member offers to take your loved one to a doctor’s appointment, do the shopping, or to stay with your loved one while you take some time for yourself, accept it! People feel good when they help others, so don’t feel that you have to refuse help. And during the times when you feel that you need help, ask for it!
- Say NO when you are stretched too thin. Many caregivers have families and full time jobs on top of their caregiving responsibilities. If a family member, friend, or boss asks for something extra that you feel you cannot do, it is okay to say no. You don’t have to feel as though you are letting others down—you are doing as much as you can do. Overworking yourself in any capacity could be detrimental to your own physical and mental health, as well as the health of your loved one.
- Keep family members updated on the status of your loved one. Family members, whether they live close or far away, want to know what is going on with their loved one. Keep them informed of healthcare, financial, and care decisions you or your loved one make so that they feel included. This type of open, honest, clear communication will help avoid negative feelings down the road.
- Talk to your family about your feelings. Many caregivers forget to take time for themselves while they are taking care of a loved one, but it may be the most important thing you can do for yourself and for your loved one. As long as you are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, you will be a better caregiver for your loved one. Talk to your family members and be honest about how you feel. Include the good and bad things.
Cultivating a healthy, open relationship with the rest of your family as a caregiver is imperative for a smooth relationship. Family members will feel excluded from the care of their loved one if they feel that they are being kept out of the loop. Consistently informing them of the status of your loved one, as well as including them in important decisions will help keep family relationships strong and intact.