When you are a caregiver for someone with dementia people often tell you to look after yourself, and you are priority #1.
If you are like me you will probably think to yourself “I’m fine….I am dealing with this and am doing ok”. (and you probably don’t like being told this as well very much either).
Early on I made a silent pact with Dad that I will care for him 24/7 and do whatever it takes to get the job done. The result?…..You end up providing a standard of care similar to me in the picture below…. with my eyes closed.🙂
The problem with this is Dad could then walk off and get outside and potentially get run over.
I now realize it is important to pace yourself and give yourself a break. You also don’t have to spend endless hours with the person to avoid feeling guilty. Sometimes a short burst of ‘quality caring’ can have just as much impact as sitting with someone for hours.If I personally ensure dad is not in pain, not uncomfortable and not unhappy I am content leaving him with the paid care staff to do their role. So why do I not let them do it all?…Because I can pick up subtle changes in dad’s decline and act upon them quickly eg involve doctors, adjust meds etc. I also love being around Dad as much as possible because we are close and have a great time together.
As Dad is constantly declining and his care needs are increasing (ahhhh),the way I approach things now is to ‘share the load’ and manage the time better with the paid carers in the nursing home and take different care shifts to my Mum. (eg I do mornings, and she does evenings and then switch after a while). This keeps you constantly learning and understanding the condition so much better. The care requirements at different times of the day can differ greatly and it gives you a better overall understanding of the impact of dementia.
So in a nutshell…….give yourself a break from time to time….don’t feel guilty…..and give yourself a small pat on the back occasionally.
Keep on Caring!
PS – Nicki Peaston from the Carer Wellness Centre you are the inspiration for this post. 🙂 (thank you!)