Living with dementia and its effects can often be isolating and many people report that they feel forgotten about, but it’s not just those diagnosed with dementia that can feel invisible, but their carers too.
Alzheimer’s Society share some important information about caring for someone with dementia.
Remember you can only do so much. Everyone who cares for a person with dementia will need help at some stage. Focus on what you can do and try to accept that you may need help with some things.
Try not to compare yourself or your situation with other carers. You may think they are coping much better than you. However, everyone’s situation will be different and everyone faces their own challenges. You may struggle with things other people seem to find easy but they may struggle to do things that you find easy.
SET OUT YOUR PRIORITIES
Many carers feel torn between their different responsibilities. You might be trying to care for the person with dementia as well as looking after a household, caring for children or going to work. As much as you may want to manage everything, it will not always be possible. It can also be difficult if other people try to help but give you advice that may not apply to your specific situation.
You can’t do everything on your own. You also won’t be able to please everyone. Work out which things you really need to do and which are less important. Look for tasks that other people may be able to help you with, to take some pressure off you.
REMEMBER THE POSITIVES
Take strength from your commitment to the person you are caring for and your fondness for them. Think about your relationship with the person and the fact that you’re helping them enormously, even if they may not always seem to know or appreciate it. It can sometimes be hard to see the positive things you are achieving. Writing things down can help – even small things like a joke you shared with the person you’re caring for.
When you’re having a difficult day, thinking about positive times you’ve shared can remind you that there are still some better times and about the good that you are doing for the person.
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Taking regular breaks from caring is important for your own wellbeing and you will be able to cope better if you take breaks from caring and make time for yourself. Socialising is also very important for your overall wellbeing.
When you do get time to yourself you could use it to catch up on tasks like housework or managing your finances. Or you may want to have some ‘time out’, such as meeting a friend for coffee, enjoying a hobby, or doing something else for yourself. Also try to find time to reflect and relax.
Many carers find that making time to do things they enjoy helps them with their caring role. By taking regular breaks you may find you are better able to support the person you’re caring for. Having time apart can also be good for both you and the person you are caring for. It can help to ease any tensions or frustrations you have. You don’t have to take long breaks from caring. Having a short time to yourself could make a lot of difference.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging at times and it’s very important to get support. This includes practical information and advice, and support with how you’re feeling and coping. There are a number of ways to get support from the people around you, including professionals.
Talk to friends or family members you trust. You will know who you feel most comfortable talking to. There are also many professionals who can help. Often the GP is the first person you should see and can refer you to other professionals. These may include, for example, a counsellor or psychotherapist or an occupational therapist.
Alzheimer’s Society also offers a number of services that can help you. Visit www.alzheimers.org.uk for more information.