While life with dementia and caring for dementia can be extremely stressful, there is perhaps a silver lining. Refreshing a loved one’s memory and rebuilding the way they perceive life, if looked at from a profanely optimistic viewpoint, is such a pure responsibility to take up. The caregiver becomes an embodiment of everything the person needs – old photo albums, reminder notifications, dictionary, college yearbooks and moral science classes from fourth grade.
The love and the warmth of the caregiver serve as the only constant in a whirlwind life where everything changes rapidly, where everything is forgotten.
The confusion and mental frustration that accompanies dementia is paramount. A cognitive dysfunction like dementia can test one’s patience, especially that of the caregiver. As dementia attacks on one’s memory and slowly nibbles away on it, their sense of being and identity fade simultaneously.
That will, however, create a large ground for someone to rebuild their ideas, perspectives and principles towards life in general. That being said, we must acknowledge that this is a highly ideal and optimistic approach to dementia care. Also, this reconstruction of self would be impossible without the caregiver’s efforts and crucial decisions.
Dementia rehabilitation can be seen more as the caregiver ‘building a mind’ instead of the patient ‘losing their mind’. The care that we are talking about could be very foundational in nature, slightly similar to parenting. There will be certain differences like the age of who is being cared for, of course, but what is strikingly common between parenting and dementia care is the amount of empathy and patience required.
The similarities, however, are worth thinking about. For example, information is often censored in both kinds of caregiving. To prevent a child from being prematurely introduced to corrupted morality of the world and to protect a dementia patient from recurrent painful information, caregiver has to make a decision regarding what to share and what to withhold. Is it better to tell a forgetful woman that her husband is out grocery shopping every time she asks instead of truthfully revealing that he died four and a half years ago? It is highly likely that she will eventually forget that she asked the question and it is better for her mental peace to dilute the reality with well-intended falsehood.
“Finally managing the dynamics in the family is difficult. It’s a necessary evil but it has to be done.”
– Dr. Priya Raghavan MBBS, MRCP (UK), Lead Dementia Services
Like a new parent, a caregiver for a dementia patient also has to tread uncharted seas and face different issues on a daily basis despite the overload of well meaning advice, tips and limited support from the people around them. It should be noted how important it is to take care of oneself while dedicating efforts to nourish someone’s environment at such a stage. One needs to take out time for themselves but time is a luxury that is absent – an essential commodity required in its entirety for the patient or the child, in dementia care and parenting respectively.
There’s a constant tussle between new bonds that are building and bonds that become wobbly with time and cognitive limitations – a frontal lobe that is starting to develop for a newborn and a dementia affected hippocampus that is losing its efficiency with every passing day. The constant dread that caregivers have regarding dementia rehabilitation is letting go of a loved one and seemingly nullifying the relationship shared over decades.
Opting for dementia care in rehabilitation centres becomes a necessity, not for the lack of love and attention but the lack of a clinical perspective. While it may be the most difficult thing to do, it is often what the patient needs and serves.
“(The family members) lack the expertise in dealing with dementia. It’s not so much about what the societal expectations are but it comes down to how well the person can be managed at home.”
– Dr. Priya Raghavan MBBS, MRCP (UK), Psychiatrist
Life comes a full circle and eventually infantilises the dementia patient, discarding their age and the rich experience they have collected over time. Such stages of life where you kind of go back to the beginning, it does not hurt to keep a pinch of optimistic viewpoint as an emotional emergency kit. The caregiver can derive immense amounts of patience and strength from such optimism and painting parallels with parental care. It could be rewarding for the caregiver and definitely for the one who is being so enthusiastically, hopefully and lovingly cared for.
Dementia can be hard to treat, not only because it is hard to diagnose but also because dementia care has to cater to different needs – of both the patient and the caregiver. At Cadabams, we ensure that the various aspects of dementia are addressed and acknowledged.
We put our 28+ years of expertise to ensure that you get the treatment you need and deserve. Our multispecialty team of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, physicians work round the clock and are with you every step of the way. We offer world-class evidence-based treatment that is fit for all stages and all types of dementia. At Cadabams, we care for you. We are the only psychiatric institution in India to be recognised and supported by CNTW and NHS.
To know more about Dementia or its treatment options, reach out to us on 24/7 helpline @+91 9741476476 or mail us at email@example.com. We are here to help!