Being compassionate to someone you love who has dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, cognitive decline, or senile dementia can be challenging if you’re their only caregiver. While many people struggle to admit the challenges they face in taking care of an older adult with dementia, the reality is that being a caregiver to someone with dementia isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be easy to lose your patience, feel hopeless, and think negative things.
The great news is that you can help your loved one move into old age and fight against things like Parkinson’s Disease more effectively if you learn to not only be more compassionate with them but with yourself, too. If you love someone with any type of dementia and are struggling with how to be empathetic, read on for some things to think about.
Understanding the Diagnosis
It’s easier to be patient and show empathy for a senile family member or loved one when you understand their diagnosis. While watching someone you love suffer from cognitive function decline can be sad and frustrating, putting yourself in their shoes and imagining what it must be like for them can be a good way to take a step back and be more patient.
Consider going with your family member to doctor’s appointments where you can. Not only will you be able to get great information on ways to help, but you’ll become educated in conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. The more you know about your loved one’s diagnosis, the better position you’ll be in to notice cognitive changes and remain tolerant on bad days.
Building a Support System
Being a caregiver to someone who has dementia is tiresome. No matter how empathetic you are and how much you love that person, the truth is that everyone needs time off. If you’re caring for someone who suffers from cognitive decline, the best thing you can do for them is to assemble a support team.
A support team could include people in your life who also love your family member as well as professionals. For some people, this team even includes adult day centers or other services that will mean a break for you but a great experience for the person you love.
No one can do it alone. Do what you can to reach out for help where needed. Not only will this help you to be compassionate in the moment, but it will give you the energy to remain calm for the long term.
Remaining Patient and Seeking Respite
If you love someone with dementia, you already know that being patient with your senior family members can be tricky. There will be days when showing compassion will be a challenge. When you get frustrated, consider engaging in acts of self-care like taking a hot bath, going for a walk, or doing something for yourself. These small decisions will help you to reset when needed.
At the same time, knowing when to reach out for help and respite care will go a long way in helping you to maintain composure. Different than a personal support network, respite care could include a five-day stay in assisted living or something similar. While it can be challenging to admit temporary defeat or trust others with the person you love, doing so will give you breathing space that will allow you to be more empathetic.
At the end of the day, being willing to use your support team and resources and being educated on your loved one’s condition are great ways to make your family member’s dementia diagnosis easier on you. Remind yourself that it’s okay for caregivers to get burned out and asking for help will help you to act with compassion and have more hope in general.