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Seven Things Dementia Family Caregivers Need to Do

Home Helpers of Barrington, Palatine, Buffalo Grove and the surrounding cities understands that caring for a family member with dementia is a nonstop challenge.  The stress never lets up and eventually the fatigue can take a serious toll on anyone.  Our caregivers are specially trained on how to deal with these issues and yet we still make sure they get the proper breaks they need.   Are you getting the proper breaks you need? 

The intense stress of dealing with a family member that has dementia in any form is tough enough and then there are the additional stresses of daily life and of course other family members as well.  We have seen health conditions arise in family caregivers that are directly attributable to the stress caused by caregiving.  Depression, heart disease and even more cases of getting the flu, the common cold and other common ailments as the mind and body just don’t have the normal stamina to fight off these issues.

There are some things you can do to care for yourself.

First, please call us at (847) 750-3016.  If nothing else call us for moral support or advice. Don’t try and go it alone.  You may find that Home Helpers can make your life easier in surprisingly simple and easy ways you had not thought of before especially since we customize our care to your specific needs of each family. 

Some of our best advice is to step back in any moment you can and take stock.  Yes, take stock of what is important in that moment, that hour that day. 

Second, give yourself permission to be a bit angry.  Yes, it is O.K. and perfectly normal to be more than a little angry.  Of course, everyone says be angry at the disease not the person but we are all human and it is not easy to separate the two especially at two in the morning when you are dealing with sundowners for the fifth time that night.  Giving yourself that permission to bang on a table, scream into a pillow or whatever works on a regular basis is not just O.K. it is necessary. 

Third, get some sleep!  Again, don’t do this alone.  The single most common cause of accidents, sickness and just plain poor judgment is a lack of sleep and lack of regular sleep.

Fourth, leave the house.  Go get a cup of coffee, go out to the grocery store and take your time about it.  Do something by yourself or with a close friend.  You will be a better caregiver and a healthier you for doing it.  You will notice that many of these things require that you allow others to help you.  We see the problem every day where family caregivers believe they are the only ones responsible or able to care for their loved ones. What actually ends up happening to these folks is they get burnt out and eventually either need care themselves or are not as good at giving care as they could be.  Again, no one can do this on their own well.

Fifth, please don’t ever lose your sense of humor!  Find the humor in the little things.  Laugh a bit!  You may find that people not in your situation think it odd what you find funny these days, but trust us, at Home Helpers we get it! 

Sixth, get rid of negative people.  This is good advice in any situation, but if there are people in your life that just “don’t get it”.  You don’t have time for them.  Get them as out of your life as possible.  More than ever before you need people in your life you can count on.  If people say they will help and then don’t come though, don’t expect that to change going forward.   Keep those around you who truly are helpful and don’t spend time on those who can’t or won’t understand or lend a hand. 

Seventh, stop feeling bad about not doing what other people expect you to do.  Sure, your laundry will pile up, the yard may get overgrown and trust me the house will not get dusted on a regular basis.  You may find that dinner may consist of frozen pizza more often than not.  Who cares?  Keep focused on what is important.  That is, you and the one you are caring for.  Accept help, get sleep and don’t ever feel guilty about doing things for yourself or getting a bit angry.    

Christine Browning R.N.

Owner: Home Helpers Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Palatine and the surrounding suburbs of Chicago