While the overarching caregiver experience is universal (demands on time and energy, shifting roles and responsibilities, physical and emotional constraints, etc.), the individual needs of caregivers can vary a great deal depending on the specific illness or condition a person is managing. Caregiving for a person living with dementia has a particularly unique set of circumstances.
Dementia itself is a condition that covers more than 120 different types, forms, and causes of brain change. The symptoms are vast and complicated and care for patients can be just as vast and complicated—it takes a tremendous toll on the physical and emotional health of the caregiver—a result, caregivers of individuals with dementia require specific support, resources and tools.
Here are a few (immediate) things caregivers can do to ease the effects of stress:
Prioritize time for yourself
The fact of the matter is, you are the most important person in the life of someone living with dementia. They count on you to anticipate, interpret and fulfill all their needs. Maintaining your own wellbeing is crucial to providing quality care—you have to anticipate, interpret and fulfill your own needs as well. Schedule activities like physical exercise, enjoying the outdoors, or visiting with friends.
Reduce your stress
If you’re feeling stressed it can impact the quality of care you’re able to provide. Actively seek out ways to ease your stress by asking for help when you need it and practicing healthy habits like eating well and getting enough sleep.
Plan for the future
Dementia is a progressive disease, so it’s vital to plan ahead. Utilize professionals who can help you plan for legal, financial, or long-term health issues before they materialize. Prepare yourself for the inevitability that your care recipient’s health will decline, and you won’t able to help any further. Seek guidance for end-of-life issues.
Arm yourself with knowledge
Dementia is a complicated disease with a wide variety of challenging symptoms. Do research, consult with specialists and take advantage of local resources to help learn as much as you can about dementia, to empower your ability to provide good care.
We can help if your struggling with:
- Feelings of loneliness or isolation
- Navigating the healthcare system
- Stress-related physical conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems or insomnia
- Anger (sometimes leading to physical violence)
- Dissatisfaction with life
As the stages of dementia advance, it can become difficult to continue providing quality care as the demands on caregivers’ time and energy increases. It becomes increasingly important for caregivers to connect with a sympathetic support network during these times.