Caring for a loved one with memory loss can be the most fulfilling work you’ll ever do. However, most people aren’t prepared for the many challenges involved. In more than three decades of working with families and training professional carers, we’ve learned that the most effective carers develop a range of important character traits:
Compassion. A caring personality can help to keep you energised through tough times and can motivate you to seek training and resources that improve the quality of the care you provide.
Composure. Meeting personal care needs such as dressing or using the bathroom can be very uncomfortable. Learning to keep your composure when performing unpleasant tasks gives the gift of dignity to anyone receiving this type of care.
Empathy. Your loved one may feel embarrassed, frustrated or angry as they grow less able to manage their personal needs. Take a deep breath, step back and consider their perspective.
Diplomacy. Your tone of voice and body language say as much as your actual words. Prepare yourself mentally for challenging discussions or negotiations - sometimes about simple matters such as meal or activity preferences - to help you to communicate with dignity and respect.
Creativity. If your loved one resists necessary activities such as bathing, brushing their teeth or even eating, try being more creative: play music, recall a family memory or turn the task into a game.
Humour. The ability to find moments that make you and your loved one laugh is a great skill. Maintaining a sense of humour can help you both through some challenging times, but always make sure to laugh with - not at - your loved one.