Dementia is a condition which can bequite hard on the person who suffers from it, as well as the familywhich has to take care of the affected individuals. Basically, theelderly suffering from irreversible dementia are permanentlyimpaired, as far as their mental functions are concerned, beingincapable of remembering things, communicating, making judgments ormanaging to take care of themselves independently.
Therefore, people who are caregiversfor demented individuals have a very hard task ahead of them. Thus,these people need to be well prepared and well educated aboutdementia, knowing how this illness functions and how they can manageto get the most out of it, making it as little impairing as possible.
Dementia and Elder CaregiversResponsibilities
Being a caregiver to an elderly personis a great burden, especially if this person is your father ormother. Therefore, for starters, as a caregiver, you need to face thefact that the ill person you are in charge of will never getcompletely healthy again. Taking into consideration that you mightget emotionally attached to the people you are being a caregiver to,this job may result in tears which cannot be concealed. The veryhelplessness which can overwhelm you during your regular processes ofnourishing meals, supervising medication, arranging transportation tothe doctor's or any other necessary action can make this obligationtoo hard to handle. Yet, as a good caregiver, you need to motivateyourself properly and stay strong.
Simply, a caregiver is in charge of allthe hard work related to a demented old person. He/she may need toclean after vomiting, defecation, urination and all other suchprocesses, taking out the urine bags and changing the clothes and thesheets more often than ever. Also, the caregivers need to monitor thesymptoms the demented individual shows and take his/her bodytemperature on a regular basis.
Yet, the most difficult responsibilitya caregiver can possibly have is the emotional sacrifice he/she hasto make. Being a caregiver is one of the most stressful professionsin the world and it can take away all of your energy on a dailybasis, leading to depression, nervousness, helplessness and manyother negative states of mind. Moreover, as the demented patient'sstate becomes worse, and it will, the whole set of demands expandsand becomes far more complicated. Therefore, often, the caregiver mayfeel incapable of helping the elderly person and this might lead tostrong negative emotions. Also, the very notion of being alert mostof the time, knowing that the elderly person may die even if he/shechokes on the food he/she is eating can be incredibly straining,wearing the caregiver out more and more, with every day on this typeof work.
Nevertheless, a good caregiver needs tolearn how to be realistic and control his/her emotions adequately,being there for the elderly person, but living his/her personal lifeas well. Concentrating solely on the health of the patient,neglecting your own, can lead to serious health problems. Thus, bethere for the demented person, but do not forget yourself and yourown life. Also, do not allow the guilt to bother you, even after thepatient dies. Death, in these cases, is an inevitable scenario, and,knowing you have done everything to prevent this, restassured that it is not your fault.
Decisions and Good Caregivers
The first proper decision a caregiverneeds to make, as soon as he/she becomes a caregiver, is acceptingthe task he/she has and accepting the illness the elderly patientsuffers from. A caregiver is best to learn all about the diseasehis/her patient suffers from, knowing what to expect and coming toterms with the condition. Another thing you need to accept, while inthis position, are the negative feelings. Namely, these areinevitable and normal. Your patient is suffering from an irreversibleform of a highly debilitating disease and you have an incrediblydifficult task ahead of you. Thus, it is better to let your feelingsshow for the sake of staying emotionally healthy, than to bury it alldeep inside and suffer more than your patient does.
Other people may also need tounderstand everything about the illness their elderly family memberis suffering from. As a caregiver, it might be a good choice to grantthem the necessary information since, this way, they will understandyour actions more and will accommodate to the needs of their sickfamily member better, assisting you adequately.
Additionally, you need to understandyour own feelings and control them. As it was mentioned above, grief,anger, helplessness and many other emotions may reach the surface.Deal with these properly without jeopardizing the health and thewell-being of your patient. Also, if you feel that you are beingcriticized by the family members or think that you are incapable ofbeing responsible for 100% of the patient's needs, react. You cannotbe totally in charge of every breath your patient takes. Rather, therest of the family needs to fulfill their own share ofresponsibilities, helping you out. Keep this in mind and protectyourself.
All in all, countless decisions need tobe made in the lives of caregivers, helping them cope better with theincredibly demanding job of being responsible for all therequirements an elderly person suffering from dementia might have. Doyour best to take good care of the patient, but never neglect yourown health and your own needs.