Caring for Someone Living With Dementia
Caregiving is a demanding role. For those caring for someone living with memory loss, the challenges are often multiplied. Frequently, the person living with dementia is unable to communicate their needs, making the caregiver feel guilty that they are unable to fully take care of their loved one. This makes an already demanding role even more difficult.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveals that more than 15 million Americans are providing care for family members with dementia. Fifty-nine percent rated the emotional stress of caregiving as “high” or “very high.” Many caregivers report feeling isolated, stressed, and living with a sense of grief as the person they love changes in so many ways. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, people caring for someone living with dementia are twice as likely to suffer from depression as those caring for someone without dementia.
Many people caring for someone with memory loss live in a constant state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, which can compromise their health for years. Researchers at Ohio State University found that caring for a family member with dementia can weaken the immune system even years after caregiving ends.
Here are some tips to help those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Make some time for your own needs
When one gets caught up in a caregiving role, it’s easy to let other things slide – doctor and dental appointments, going to the gym, grocery shopping, or even getting together with friends. Being a good caregiver requires a lot of stamina – and the best way to maintain the energy required is to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough exercise, eating well and taking some time to spend with friends and family.
Get help from others
Caregiving is hard work and no one expects you to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends for some assistance. This could include everything from asking a neighbor to pick up a prescription or groceries to asking family members to for financial assistance to pay for some outside care. Most people are glad to help and will feel good about the opportunity to contribute.
Join a support group
Connecting with others who are sharing your experiences can be very empowering. You may also discover how others are meeting the challenges you’re facing and discover solutions for managing your caregiving duties and making them a part of a productive, enjoyable life.
Help others understand your changing role
If you have children, explain to them what’s going on and that although you may be less available for them, you still love them and want to know what’s going on in their lives. Let friends know you may be less available and are still eager for connection. Talk to your boss – you may be able to arrange a work schedule that accommodates your caregiving duties. Let coworkers know you appreciate their support during this time.
Get some assistance from experts in dementia care
Our staff have been leaders in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care in New Jersey for more than 25 years. We are uniquely qualified to offer specialized dementia care services to individuals and their families.