When an individual receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or any another dementia, they are not the only ones who are affected.
Dementia also impacts the lives of those closest to the person, including caregivers, family members, and friends.
Caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia are particularly vulnerable to burnout.
Research shows that most dementia caregivers suffer from depression and stress. Also, studies show that the more hours spent on care giving, the greater the risk of anxiety and depression.
Women caregivers are particularly prone to feeling stress and overwhelmed.
Studies show that female caregivers have more emotional and physical health problems, employment-related problems, and financial strain than male caregivers.
Other research shows that people who care for their spouses are more prone to care giving-related stress than those who care for other family members.
But there is hope.
By educating yourself about dementia and learning care giving techniques, you have the ability to maintain quality of life for both you and your family member.
One of the first steps in supporting those with the diagnosis is to plan for the future.
As the disease progresses decision making can become more and more difficult.
Planning ahead allows the person with dementia to make their own wishes known.
This can include decisions about their living arrangements including information about long-term care and home care support, financial decisions including power of attorney, representation agreements and wills and end-of-life care.
Legal documents need to be signed while the person has the legal capacity to do so – when the disease has not progressed to a point that the person is deemed as not having the capacity to understand what they’re signing.
It is important to recognize that there are many different approaches to supporting someone with dementia, and caregivers often need to explore a variety of techniques and strategies to determine what works best for them.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is a great source for information about the disease, support for care givers as they learn to cope with the progression of the disease and referrals to community resources/supports that can prevent care giver burnout.
Jas Cheema is a caregiving support coordinator at the White Rock, Surrey Comeshare Society. She can be contacted at 604-531-9400 or email@example.com