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How to Cope with the Effects of Changing Environments on Your Loved One with Memory Loss

Change can be difficult for any of us at any age! Psychologists say that changes to our daily routine, such as a change in our normal living environment, take us out of our comfort zone and force us to respond and adjust to a whole new set of situations and stimuli. A sudden move due to business reasons is one example. This can be very disruptive to our preferred lifestyle and can also be a source of additional stress.  

Common Changes That Can Impact Your Loved One’s Behavior

Change is particularly difficult for loved ones who are already living with the significant changes caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Experts tell us that changes in their surroundings often play a role in causing anxiety, irritability, agitation, anger and aggressiveness. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association states that changing environments for loved ones with memory loss can increase their fear, and they fatigue from trying to make sense of an increasingly confusing world.

Many of the changes that can affect your loved one’s behavior are quite common and include:

  • Moving to a new residence or changes to their familiar environment
  • Changes in caregiver arrangements
  • Admission to a hospital
  • Bathing or change clothes
  • The presence of houseguests

Identifying the cause of a specific behavior can be very helpful in creating a plan to effectively deal with it.

Crystal Yost, Program Director at Impressions Memory Care,says,“Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss are progressive disorders that destroy healthy brain cells. As a result, attempting to modify your loved one’s behavior is often unsuccessful and can even cause further stress and anxiety. It is therefore recommended that you try to modify your loved one’s living environment to minimize the causes of their discomfort.” 

“Making modifications to their environment can often reduce and sometimes eliminate the causes of their increased stress. Taking the right steps can also create positive feelings that can enhance their overall sense of well-being.”

Tips for Minimizing Environmental Changes that Cause Challenging Behaviors  

Environmental causes of behavioral change and suggested solutions have been addressed by leading professional sources. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association website sectiononTreatments for Behavior provides useful tips for coping with changing environments and the challenging behaviors that often result.

Suggestions include:

  • Eliminate or reduce stress-producing triggers – Noise, glare and background distraction (such as having the television on) can act as triggers.
  • Monitor their personal comfort – Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder, fatigue, infections and skin irritation.
  • Create a sense of calm – Remove stressors and clutter. Evaluate whether the living space is too loud and chaotic.
  • Encourage social engagement – Provide transportation and access to social activities.
  • Offer a security object – Provide a favorite blanket, a Bible, or anything comforting that your loved one enjoys holding or being near.
  • Provide opportunities to exercise – Go for a walk together or garden together. According to the National Institute of Health, some studies have shown a reduction in cognitive decline with exercise.
  • Utilize “holistic therapies” – Activities using music, art, pets and reminiscence (e.g. viewing old photo albums, videos and movies) have been shown to reduce stress and improve cognitive function and self-expression.
  • Give them a sense of purpose and responsibility – Keep a plant or pet fish nearby for the individual to care for. This can help the patient's mood and alleviate boredom.

Applying this useful professional advice can help you and your loved to cope with the challenges of environmental change in a more calm and productive manner.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions on our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences. Please share your stories in the comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Our brand-new Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr community provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family,” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If, and when, the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5404,or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.