Support for Caregivers of Dementia Patients

Providing care for a loved one with dementia is a significant undertaking that can impact every aspect of your life. As a dementia patients’ symptom continue to worsen, the caregiver’s ability to stay focused, energetic, and upbeat can become compromised. For those caregivers providing care for a loved one with dementia, the key to strong emotional and physical health is being prepared for the changes ahead, striving to understand the patient and the disease process, and leaning on loved ones, support groups and a homecare agency who expert is expert in dementia care.

One of the most difficult aspects of providing care to a person with dementia is watching your loved ones memories disappear and skills diminish. By understanding common dementia experiences and shifting your perspective on what may be painful or challenging, you can benefit from the many rewards, and experience success in providing care for your loved one with dementia.

How to Prepare

Alzheimer’s and  other dementia disorders, unravel the brain in a reverse order as the brain develops from birth.  It is often described as “the reverse of raising a child”, as function and cognition decline as the disease progresses. Dementia care ultimately requires 24-hour support of your loved ones’ independence, stability, and cognitive and physical regression. This grim outlook can become all-consuming for the person providing care, often leading to grief, depression, and resentment.  Knowing about, and anticipating this outcome is the first step in reducing frustration and adjusting expectations. Providing dementia care for a loved one can also be a tremendous gift: by learning about and preparing for the challenges ahead, you also make a commitment to your own overall health and well-being.

Caregiver Burnout

It is important that you learn to recognize the signs of Caregiver Burnout.  You may be on the path to burnout if you notice increased:

  • Stress
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Guilt
  • Grief
  • Sickness
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Disappointment in life

Nightingale Homecare has provided a mini-assessment tool to determine if you may be experiencing caregiver burnout.  Click here to take the test.

Scores of 41 or above indicate that a person may be experiencing caregiver burnout and a high degree of stress. If you scored in this range you need to discuss your feelings and needs with a physician and seek caregiver support.

To avoid burnout, engage in the following:

  • Mini workouts during the day
  • Leisure time, both with and without your loved one; board games, puzzles, reading, relaxing sports, and playing with pets are great ways to stay positive
  • Look for humor in all things; allow yourself to laugh at the absurd, rent funny movies, and revel in the stress-reducing benefits of lightening up a bit
  • Try new activities, even on the job; a new language, card games, and Sudoku can all be learned while caregiving
  • Take time away regularly and ask for help; caring for a loved one with dementia is often a solitary task, which makes a strong support system essential. Plan regular respite days off, where you allow a trusted family member or Home Care agency, specializing in dementia care take-over while you are away.

Connecting with friends, family, caregiver support groups along with a trusted home care agency, go a long way in staying healthy and happy while providing care for you loved one.  Should depression or unusual levels of stress set in, it is important to discuss this with your physician and/or a mental health professional.

The staff of Nightingale Homecare is uniquely qualified to provide dementia care using the specialized approach taught by Dr. Verna Benner-Carson through her “Alzheimer’s Whisperer ®” program.  Alzheimer’s Whisperers enter the client’s world and manage the challenging behaviors associated with dementia in a way that is gentle, creative and highly effective.  These skills can then be taught to families, thus enabling the person with dementia to continue to be cared for safely at home.

Contact Nightingale today. Call (602) 504-1555 or contact us online.