As many would guess, caregiving is a difficult and time-consuming task. However, the job can be even more difficult for caregivers that have to help with some types of health issues. One of the biggest health issues is memory-related problems and dementia. Although many can see the positives that comes with a caregiver relationship, such as a closer relationship with their loved one and a greater sense of pride and meaning, caregivers are also hit harder due to the challenges associated with dementia and other memory-related conditions.
Overall, dementia is a serious memory disorder that can lead to a number of caregiver problems. For example, dementia leads to communication breakdown, behavioral changes, and wandering, these things can make it more difficult for caregivers to do their job. The problems associated with dementia can take a serious toll on caregivers that affects their mental and physical health. Luckily, there are ways to make caregiving easier and to alleviate issues related to caregiver stress.
Effects of Caregiving For Dementia
According to a survey done by the American Association of Retired Persons, caregivers helping patients with dementia and other cognitive issues have higher demands put upon them which can go on to affect parts of their life such as physical and mental health, relationships, and work life.
On average, caregivers for those with dementia spend more time doing their job per week than other caregivers. They reported spending about 14 hours per week caregiving while other caregivers reported about 12 hours per week. They are also more likely to find that their caregiving has had an effect on their other relationships with their loved one and family members.
Despite the fact that caregivers for those with dementia being just as healthy as other caregivers, they are more likely to report that they were affected by increased physical, emotional, and social stress.
In general, caregivers for people with dementia are more likely to say that they have dealt with less sleep, increased depression, anxiety, social isolation, and more as a result of their caregiving practices.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning, including thinking, remembering, and reasoning, to an extent that it interferes with day-to-day living. Generally, people dealing with some form of dementia require a caregiver or assisted living facility to help them. Dementia is most common among older people, in fact, up to half of all people age 85 and older have some form of dementia. However, the condition is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in older adults.
Difficulties Caring For Dementia
One of the most difficult aspects associated with caregiving for dementia is communication. One of the biggest reasons communication is difficult is due to the memory problems associated with the disorder. They can struggle to find or forget the words that they want to say. It is important to understand that these problems are a direct result of dementia. With that said, there are a few things that you can do to make communication easier. For example, remembering to keep a calm voice, using gentle touching, and encouraging two-way conversation is a good way to improve communication with someone with dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia causes brain cells to die, causing the brain to be less effective which can change how a person acts. Behavioral problems can make caregiving a more difficult task. Some common changes that are seen include getting upset easily, acting depressed, pacing, and more. Because there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, caregivers cannot stop the changes in personality and behavior, but there are ways to help manage them. For example, keeping a daily routine, avoiding arguments, and not showing anger are good ways to avoid conflict and problems.
One of the common symptoms associated with the disease is wandering. As a caregiver, you may need to learn how to limit wandering to prevent the person from becoming lost. A few tips to avoid the problem includes keeping the doors locked, securing the yard with fencing, keep shoes and keys and other signs of departure out of sight. If the person has a history of wandering, try not to leave them unattended for very long.
It is important to remember that, as a caregiver, you need to prioritize your health just as much as the person you’re caring for. Caregivers have an important job, but doing that job while not fully health can lead to many consequences for both people. As mentioned before, caregivers who work with dementia patients reported high levels of stress, higher levels than regular caregivers.
Caregiver stress is a condition that many caregivers will experience. The problem is characterized by increased stress, feeling overwhelmed, irritation, social isolation, and more. There are many ways to improve your physical and mental health as a caregiver. For example, seeking out a social group or a support group can go a long way toward helping with social isolation and reducing stress. Likewise, if the situation is serious enough, it may be best to see a doctor about ways to relieve stress and feel better.
Caregiving is a difficult task, and some health issues can make the job even harder. Dementia, as mentioned before, is a serious disorder related to memory and behavioral issues that can make a caregiver’s job much more strenuous. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, however, there are methods that you can take, as a caregiver, to make life easier for both you and the patient.
At Landmark Senior Living, we provide our residents with the medical attention that they need at this stage in their lives. This includes memory care that can help to improve the quality of life for dementia patients. Along with medical care, Landmark help plan social and events and activities to keep residents entertained at our facilities. If you are interested in learning more about Landmark, please visit our website at LandmarkSeniorLiving.com and reach out to our admissions staff.