Caring for someone with dementia
The caring role
Caring for and looking after someone with dementia is hugely rewarding but can also present challenges. It is close family members, partners and friends who initially provide care to someone who has dementia. Indeed, it is these people who often see the symptoms and suspect something is not quite right with their loved one or friend. So whilst receiving a dementia diagnosis may not be a surprise, it does take time to adjust to the changing situation.
Look after yourself
Often, when caring for someone else, it is easy to forget to look after yourself. It is important that a carer looks after their own health – eats well, sleeps well and maintains a healthy lifestyle. Also, carers need time for themselves and with others and there are various support groups available for carers
Support for carers
Check with your GP and Adult Social Care department at the local council. There are many different, local support groups to help carers. It is important to know and understand that you are not on your own. Lots of people are caring for family members and friends who have dementia and these people are willing to help fellow carers – with practical help and support as well as a sympathetic ear.
Adult Social Care through the local council can also provide a carer's assessment. This is free and anyone can apply. A carer’s assessment will look to see if your life as a carer can be made easier such as through:
- Respite care so you, as the carer can have a break from the caring role
- Help with household chores such as the shopping
- Benefits advice for carers
- Helping with transport
- Training how to lift people safely
- Putting you in touch with support groups
As a carer, you will have many demands placed upon you – not just in your caring role but maybe through work or other family responsibilities – e.g. looking after children or grand-children. The key is to set priorities – what is important and focus on that. Don’t try to take on or do too much.
One of the most difficult challenges of caring for someone with dementia is seeing their condition progressively decline. Indeed, the person themselves may get frustrated and upset that they can’t remember things or manage to complete tasks in the way they once did. Try to reassure them and also focus on the things they can do rather than the things they can’t.
Talk to others
It is common for carers to suffer from guilt – feeling they are not doing enough or if they get frustrated with the person they are caring for. This is normal and understandable. Talking to others and getting support either from family members or via asking for a carers assessment will help the carer understand and overcome such feelings