In our practice we often meet with people who are dealing with one of the biggest challenges they have ever faced. Their loved one can no longer toilet, feed, bathe and dress themselves. Watching a family member lose the ability to function and revert to a childlike state is not only devastating and heart-wrenching, but also financially debilitating. Often the caregiver feels reluctant to place their loved one in a nursing home with “those old people.” Unfortunately, as you age, it is nearly impossible to take care of a terminally ill person with Dementia at home safely.
The reason that specialized “memory care” facilities exist is because the caregivers need to have special training to deal with a dementia patient. Often you need the secure facility to prevent your loved one from wandering away and facing perils such as not being able to remember how to get home. Also specially trained personnel can devise appropriate activities for the memory-impaired .
Another concern is the fact that statistically caretakers die before the person that has been diagnosed with the disease. The stress is overwhelming; this causes physical problems as well as mental health problems. We have seen our clients die from caregiver burnout. Ask yourself who would take care of your loved one if you were not here? Some suggestions to avoid this burnout:
- Do not deviate from your normal routine. i.e. go to the gym, get your hair done, get a massage.
- See your doctor regularly and let them know about your situation. DO NOT SKIP APPOINTMENTS!!!
- Seek Respite Care if your spouse is in the home. We coordinate with local facilities.
- If your spouse is in the home, call the Elder Help Line at 332-3049. They may be able to provide services to you free of charge if your spouse qualifies. This may include adult day care, house cleaning, grocery shopping etc.
- Know that your feelings toward your loved one are normal. The 5 stages of grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. After all, you are losing a loved one to a vicious disease.
- Accept help from friends and family.
- Attend Support Groups, they are amazing!
- Consider placement in a facility. We have great ones in Naples.
- Acknowledge your limits, you are not a superhero!
If you are suffering from caregiver burnout, call our office at 434-8557 and we will assist you accessing the appropriate services.