We meet hundreds of families each year who are adjusting to a new life living with dementia and of course the feedback we receive is not surprising – it’s hard.
How can you make a life caring for someone with dementia less frustrating, less overwhelming and less exhausting?
You need to think very clearly about YOUR expectation of the person.
The Oxford Dictionary definition of dementia is
“A chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. ‘People with dementia have a degenerative disease of the brain for which there is no cure.'”
Be mindful of this. Don’t forget it.
The person that you are caring for cannot do the things that they used to do.The person that you are caring for isn’t the same.The person that you are caring for is lost and frightened, living in a confused state despite the care you provide.The person that you are caring for needs you to LOWER your expectation of the life that you expect to live.
Work around the person you are supporting
You might have thought that you would be going on holiday six times a year, pursuing hobbies that have been the foundation of your relationship together. You might have been rubbish at cooking and relied on the other person. You might have been rubbish at DIY and now are having to cope on your own because they can’t help.
Work around the person that you are supporting. If they want a cup of tea in the morning and you usually have coffee, change it. It doesn’t matter.
If you go for a walk on a Friday and the person you are supporting says it’s a lovely day for a walk on a Monday, do it, enjoy living in the moment! Be playful. If it throws arrangements you already have in place go with it, people will understand. These are the pieces of spontaneity which you should embrace.
Only you know the person that you are supporting and it might be that you could leave for work at 8.30 in the morning and return at 6pm at night in the knowledge that all would be well at home.
Perhaps it isn’t anymore?
What is YOUR expectation of the person you care for who has dementia? They might have been so confused, that they haven’t eaten or drunk, they haven’t moved from where you left them all day. So what now? You need to change your expectation and put together additional support whether that is dog walkers, friends popping in and so on.
You need to get help before something happens that takes you to crisis.
You are going to be living with different timelines now and it is much much easier if you try not to shoehorn them into yours. You will save yourself heartache, conflict and frustration.