Dementia Carers – Health and Emotional Wellbeing
Caring For Carers
A dementia diagnosis is a worrying, frustrating and scary time for a sufferer, but what’s discussed less often is the impact it can have on the lives and health of family carers and friends. Looking after a friend or relative may be your first concern, but it’s just as important that you maintain your own wellbeing.
Caring for a dementia can be an emotional rollercoaster. As well as feelings of satisfaction gained from doing the best for a loved one, sometimes you may feel grief, guilt, anger, embarrassment, or even a sense of loss.
Never bottle these feelings up – make sure you share how you feel with other family or friends. Even if they can’t directly help with your responsibilities, confiding in others lets them know how you’re feeling and can help to ease your mind. Where other people are absent, online forums like Talking Point can be a great outlet for those feeling isolated.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the stresses and worries of long-term care, but remembering the positive aspects is important both to you and the person you’re caring for. Focus on the things that have felt rewarding, and always remember how much benefit your time and effort bring to the life of your loved one.
There will be a lot of things you can’t do together these days, but focus on the things you still can do. Sharing memories, looking at keepsakes and photographs, listening to music or going for a walk or a ride out are all great examples.
Your Own Health and Wellbeing
Putting the needs of others is often the priority for carers of loved ones. Looking after yourself is vital though, both for you and your dependent. Make sure you’re eating properly and getting the exercise you need to stay fit; do it in an enjoyable way like gardening, swimming or riding a bike.
Make sure you keep up with your own doctors appointments and hospital visits, and check that you’re on your practice’s carers’ register. If you’re responsible for lifting or moving the person you care for, your doctor may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist to make sure you’re not at risk of injury to yourself.
If sleeping is becoming a regular issue, discuss this with your doctor as it could be a sign of stress or even depression. If you do feel sad, overwhelmed or depressed a lot of the time, inform your doctor as they may recommend you talk your feelings through with a therapist.
As much as you hate to admit it, sometimes carers need help too. If everything feels like it’s becoming too much, share your problems with those you trust and seek help from your doctor if you have any concerns. Never bottle your difficulties up and suffer in silence.
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