Wednesday Workshop – What to Do When a Loved One Doesn’t Recognize You
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. When we hear that our loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease we tend to think that in some way, that is the worst thing to happen, forgetting that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Family caregivers often have to brace themselves for a time when their loved one no longer recognizes them.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the person’s memories and traits fade as the brain cells deteriorate. Experts say it’s normal to feel sad, abandoned and even angry when a loved one with Alzheimer’s forgets special memories and family members. We suggest that you talk about your feelings and keep in mind that it’s not personal – it’s the effects of the disease.
What do I do if my loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t remember who I am?
Family members and friends who are unfamiliar with the disease will question or quiz the person, often saying, “Do you know who I am?” or “Do you remember me?” Avoid that! Rather than quizzing the person’s memory, simply introduce yourself with a short statement like, “Hi. I’m Kortney, your daughter.”
Reassure them by calling your loved one by their name. You can make them feel more comfortable by using a calming tone, smiling and possibly even holding their hand but be sure to read their body language before moving in too quickly.
My loved one doesn’t recognize me. What do I do now?
After realizing that a loved one no longer recognizes them, some people feel it’s pointless to go visit anymore. We disagree. We suggest that you continue visiting your loved one and to have conversations with them often, even if they are one-sided. It may feel a little awkward doing all the talking but if you talk about things that interest the person, then it becomes a meaningful conversation to them. And besides the fact that your loved one is unable to recognize you, they can still pick up on vibes and feel the love you are sending.
Remember, stick to simple sentences when speaking to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Speak slowly and give the person ample time to capture your words and to come up with a response. Use facial expressions, body language and gesturing to get your point across but be sure not to talk to them with a “baby voice”. They are adults, talk to them as such. And smile – always remember to smile – it goes a long way.
We understand how difficult it must be to not be recognized by your loved one. Remember, they are not doing this on purpose, it is a symptom of the disease. If you need a professional to talk to about your feelings as a caregiver, then reach out to us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center. Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!