Dementia is a progressive mental disorder that affects a person’s memory along with his cognitive and other abilities. An illness like that poses significant challenges for those who take care of a patient as well.
Caring for dementia patient can be a long, laborious, stressful and a very emotional experience. As dementia progresses, the patient needs constant care along with the drugs prescribed for treating symptoms. But as the patient loses one ability after another, the caregiver is challenged to keep up with the increasing needs of the patient, impacting every aspect of their lives. It tests their stamina, patience and resilience. Watching your loved one struggling to remember something or feel challenged to even perform simple daily task can become quite overwhelming. Over time, this can leave the family members or other caregivers vulnerable to depression and stress.
As per an estimate, an average of 30-40 percent of caregivers experience depression, stress or a burnout episode while the patient’s care taking. The constant caring can make one feel isolated, exhausted, anxious, angry, irritable or even frustrated. One can only help others if they are mentally and physically stress free. Hence it is important to speak up, share the experience and seek help when necessary. The caregiver can manage or even avoid the stress, frustration and depression by asking for help.
- Firstly, a caregiver should seek professional treatment if he is suffering from depression or stress. Adopting relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, yoga can help reduce the stress and keep the mood and energy levels up.
- Reach out to other family members or even close friends who can share the tasks and support care giving. Some organizations also volunteer to help with regular home activities ie grocery shopping, cleaning etc .
- Join a support group for caregivers where you can not only share your experiences but also learn from other facing similar challenges.
- Find out online more about dementia treatment program available close-by which can help out with your needs and stay connected to local support groups. Online resources are also helpful in updating the care giving skills.
- Find caregiver resources offering support. Services like Adult day-care program, In-house nursing facility, Meal delivery etc, are helpful in managing day-to-day tasks.
Caregiving for a dementia patient can be very demanding. It is important to take time away now and then to cope up with anxiety, pressure and frustration that come with it.