Are you a caregiver for someone with dementia? If so, you need to read this blog…
I have worked with patient’s who have dementia for almost 30 years professionally, and I was my mother’s caregiver, along with my 2 other sisters. So, I have been on both sides. I know how you feel and I know what you are going through. It is a wonderful thing to be able to take care of a loved one with dementia, but it is also totally okay to know when it is no longer safe or healthy to be a caregiver.
When you are a caregiver, you need to make sure you are taking care of yourself, along with the individual you are caring for. If you are not healthy and fit, you are not going to be able to care for anyone else. It is not an easy job to be a caregiver. You need to educate yourself on dementia and you need to educate yourself on coping with being a caregiver. In this blog, I want to touch on both of these areas. November is Alzheimer’s month, so I decided to start a little early with talking about dementia.
I will start with taking care of YOU because if you aren’t healthy, you will not be a caregiver for very long… I’m not saying this to sound like a bully, but to scare you into taking care of yourself. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women and 34% are age 65 or older. Forty-one percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less. Over half of primary caregivers of people with dementia take care of parents. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression. Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $9.7 billion in additional health care costs of their own in 2014.”. Wow… that’s a little scary!! This is why caregivers need to take care of themselves!
Some typical but very important things you can do is eat healthy. Eating plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables is important, along with drinking plenty of water. You need to be in tip-top shape and have a lot of energy when being a caregiver. Another area is to make sure you get some exercise. Walking is a great way to get some fresh air and do some coping. Walking is a great coping mechanism and stress management technique. If you feel you can’t get out, you definitely need to have a back-up person to take over for you when you need to get out. Setting up a little time each day to just relax, go to the store, walk, have coffee with a friend can do wonders.
Another area to educate yourself in is dementia itself. You need to talk calmly and in a relaxed tone. People with dementia will pick up if you are upset or agitated. This can make them start acting the same way. If they are getting upset, change the subject, remove them from the area or even start singing an old song. This can calm them down. Don’t argue with someone with dementia. They cannot help themselves. They get frustrated that they don’t remember. Don’t use the phrase, “Do you remember,” or “Don’t you remember anything?”. They don’t remember… that is the problem. Also, keeping the house free of clutter and have good lighting. Make sure things are safe. If they tend to turn a burner on, there are ways to put a lock on it so they cannot put it on. If they are having issues with clothing, keep things loose and easily accessible. There are adaptive clothing that makes it easier for the person to not be able to take off, if that becomes a problem. The list of things you can do goes on and on. For more information, contact me at 440-759-9178, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can talk.
Stay calm and take care of yourself! You can… you just need the resources to do so…