Each year nearly 10 million people across the globe are diagnosed with some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia cases. Most people suffering from dementia need some sort of help to manage the activities of daily life and their overall health. But the impact of dementias extends well beyond the person suffering from the condition – more than 16 million people in the U.S. are caregiving for someone with dementia.
And because caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be so demanding, it often affects the caregiver’s ability to take care of themselves. Family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias specifically are at greater risk for depression and anxiety, and report poorer quality of life than caregivers of people with other conditions. That’s why is so incredibly important for family caregivers to learn how to balance and manage their caregiving duties as best they can.
Keep reading to learn how family caregivers are coping with their situations and the valuable advice they have to share.
You Will Get Wet on This Ride
Miriam Green sheds some light on one of the small tasks that has now become incredibly challenging as she cares for her mother who has Alzheimer’s: bathing. In this post, Miriam shows she and her care team have dealt with the situation and shares why she feels this is so difficult for her mother:
“Perhaps it is the overwhelming number of tasks associated with morning rituals that someone with Alzheimer’s can no longer remember how to do or what order to proceed in. I imagine Mom has a blank space in her memory when she’s asked to wash. And not being able to do it herself undermines her sense of accomplishment and control when she realizes she is dependent on someone else to assist.”
How she copes: Miriam brought in a professional caregiver to supplement family caregiving. She also cooks and writes about her experiences. She even wrote a book!
Check out the full post here. (Bonus: it includes a recipe!).
Walks the Walk and Talks the Talk
Not only was Susan G. Miller a caregiver for her first and second husband, mother, and mother-in-law who were experiencing dementia, she ended up having her own health crises. In this post, she shares her journey and the various feelings she experienced throughout.
How she copes: “I learned how to pace myself, how to reach out and ask and receive help. This did not occur overnight, but with lots of trial and error. Another thing I did that was invaluable was to join a support group. This in itself was a lifesaver and a source of comfort and socialization. Fellow travelers make the best companion on the caregiving journey.”
Learn more about her experience in the full post.
Coat of Rust
In this post, Jenny shares her experience in caring for her mother-in-law, a former sewing teacher who loved fashion and sewed her own clothes. When she diagnosed with Alzheimer’s there were many things she forgot in addition to not knowing what era she was in. Jenny shares some valuable advice on how to deal with the memory lapses
“My husband and I made the common mistake of trying to correct her, thinking it would relieve her mind to know she didn’t have to go to work. “Remember, mom? You’re retired now,” my husband would say, “You don’t have to be anywhere.” We’d see a troubled look overtake her soft face and realize that we were upsetting her instead of being soothing. The more loving response might have been to just listen, and ask questions about her class, her favorite students, and what she loved about teaching.”
How she copes: Letting her mother-in-law wear certain things (like an old raincoat) that helped her feel comfortable and more like “herself” helped keep things calm in the household.
Read the full story here.
8 Things No One Tells You About Being a Caregiver for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease
This article is packed with great advice from several family caregivers with different perspectives and experiences. And just as each caregiver has different experiences, so does each person with Alzheimer’s:
“There’s a long list of potential symptoms people may exhibit as their Alzheimer’s evolves, but not everyone will experience each symptom. For instance, some people with Alzheimer’s disease undergo personality changes.”
How they cope: Using respite care, acknowledging that there will be bad days (but that tomorrow is a new one!), and being grateful and appreciative each day are just a few of the great pieces of advice in this article
Learn more from these caregivers by accessing the article here.
Dementia caregiver with 7+ years of experience shares words of wisdom
Diane Hoover is n experienced dementia caregiver who cared her mother for over 7 years. In this post, she shares her 10 caregiving “musts,” including removing the word guilt from your vocabulary:
“Decisions made from a heart full of love are good decisions. Only you know what is best for your loved one, your family and for YOU! Guilt has absolutely no place in a care warrior’s journey.”
How she coped: Diane used some unconventional techniques including telling her mom some “fibs.” She also became an advocate for her mom’s care, including being “loud” when it was necessary to make sure she was heard.
Read more suggestions in the full post
A dementia diagnosis can be devastating, but it’s important to remember that you have resources! Millions of family caregivers are going through the same thing you are, and reading these stories is just one thing you can do to feel less alone and more equipped for the journey.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can support you in your family caregiving role, please reach out for a complimentary discovery call with a client service specialist to learn more about our Dementia Specialty Program. We are here to help!