Tips for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers
As part of an Alzheimer caregiver family, we always had a difficult time keeping a straight face in front of each other when it came to our father (who was an Alzheimer’s patient since 2010). Since 2015 (joint family earlier), we were a family of seven… me, my husband, his parents, our two teenage kids, and their nanny (more than a family). Almost all of us “believed” that we are “okay”. Whereas, it was totally the opposite. For almost a decade we suffered silently and did not talk (to each other) about it much. That was one huge mistake, I guess.
Symptom of depression, diagnosed by chance, for me:
It was only after my father-in-law passed away last October is when we realized how his disease has affected us. One day, I attended a session by my school friend, Yogeeta Phogat-Counseling Psychologist at Manosamvaad. I attended the session just to make her happy only to learn, later, that I was in depression (big time). Finally, I knew why I found myself alone in a room full of people. My laughter being reduced to forced smiles, day by day. I was sad for no reason. I did not know what made me happy anymore!
Tips for Alzheimer’s and Dementia caregiversTaking care of an Alzheimer’s patient can be a long emotional journey (for some). You may experience different kinds of feelings, like a child on a roller coaster. Each day a new challenge-both physically and emotionally.
Ask for help:
Take time off. Do not feel guilty if you did not change the diapers today. Your partner (spouse/children/relative) can also do it equally well, if not perfect like you. Ask a friend to babysit your kids while you go out for a late-night movie/dinner.
Often will they test your patience by trying to make things difficult for you (unintentionally of course). But it's all about energy, you will give out the wrong signal by being violent or physical which in turn will provoke them. Always remember whatever they are doing is not intentional they are just too confused to know any better. Doing meditation will help (YOU). Visualization of the happier times will help too.
Any form of exercise or relaxation techniques will help immensely. Deep breathing, running, swimming, walking, and meditating can relax you and take your mind off the guilt and frustration you might be having. One great relaxation method I learned was Shavasana (The Corpse Pose). You can check this link which I found very useful https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/yoga-poses/shavasana-corpse-pose
Practice gratitude:This was again taught by Yogeeta’s 21-day gratitude therapy. This helped me immensely. Practicing gratitude when you feel negative worked wonders for me on both the personal and professional front. You can begin by starting to write about small things for which you are thankful today. Yes, start today. Take a diary. Write – How you feel about yourself. How beautiful or handsome you look today. How grateful you are for the tasty dinner you had today.
Last but not the least, Acceptance:
Yes, he/she is the best-dressed person in the whole clan. But now he/she is not able to even differentiate between a sock and shirt. So what?! Enjoy this very moment as these moments will be the most precious ones when they are no more… We still laugh about how my son used various tricks to not get beaten by his grandfather. Putting him to bed was a huge task, done by my son, everyday-tirelessly. When father used to come running towards my son he used to run out and come inside again like a complete stranger. Father forgot that he was running after him and sat on the bed as if a guest has visited.
Love ~ Sneha