When a loved elder gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, the near and dear ones suffer the most. One family member assumes the role of the caregiver and takes on responsibilities for the loved elder’s well-being.
Suppose such a diagnosis has been made in your loved elder. In that case, it may be heart-wrenching because it may be tough to see your capable and independent loved one lose one ability after another. Your caregiver role may change as your loved one battles dementia and progresses from a supportive role to a round-the-clock one. This role may be challenging because you may suddenly be engulfed in duties you had never planned. You may be stumped by the way your roles have changed. You might get so engrossed and enmeshed in your caregiving responsibilities that you may find your own life slipping away.
Since caregiving for memory loss is a long journey, it may cause a lot of emotional upheaval and frustration.
Some things that you may have to do
- Change your work pattern
- Caring for your loved elder may require more and more of your time and effort as the disease progresses, so you may have to resort to a flexible working or a work-from-home type of work pattern.
- Adapt your home
- You may have to make some changes in your home to make it safer for your loved elder e.g., installing more lighting, getting rid to clutter
- Learn basic nursing skills
- Caregiving may involve physical support in many ways. You may have to learn basic nursing and care skills like how to give sponge baths, change soiled bedding,
- Deal with your own emotions
Caregiving may place you on the edge of an emotional abyss. It is often a very frustrating journey as the person so close to you starts losing one ability after another. You may have to deal with a gamut of emotions ranging from guilt, anger, frustration, and depression.
Here are some tips
- Remember self-care is vital
- Request and accept help whenever needed
- Delegate work that can be done by others
- Know your limits: You can’t do everything on your own
Symptoms of caregiver stress
- Denial about the disease and its effect on the person suffering from it.
- “Everyone is overreacting. I know Mom will get better.”
- Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s disease, yourself, and others.
- “If he asks me that question again, I will scream!”
- Withdrawing socially you no longer want to stay in touch with friends or participate in activities you once enjoyed.
- “I don’t care about getting together with friends anymore.”
- Anxiety about facing another day and what the future holds.
- “I’m worried about what will happen when I can no longer provide care.”
- Depression you feel sad and hopeless much of the time.
- “I don’t care anymore. What is wrong with me?”
- Sleeplessness you wake up in the middle of the night or have nightmares and stressful dreams.
- “I rarely sleep through the night and don’t feel refreshed in the morning.”
- Emotional reactions you cry at minor upsets; you are often irritable.
- “I cried when there was no milk for my coffee this morning. Then I yelled at my son.”
- Lack of concentration you have trouble focusing, and you find it difficult to complete complex tasks.
- “I used to do the daily crossword. Now I am lucky if I can solve half of it.”
- Health problems you may lose or gain weight, get sick more often (colds, flu), or develop chronic health problems (backaches, high blood pressure).
- “Since the spring, I have had either a cold or the flu. I can’t seem to shake them.”