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Coping with the Emotional Side of Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

If you're the caregiver of a loved one with dementia, you're likely facing many challenges. You might be worried about finances and stress, but there's also the emotional side of caring for someone with dementia. It can be challenging to cope with this illness, especially if you're dealing with it alone. However, there are ways to help yourself and your loved one by learning more about dementia caregiving and talking with other caregivers who have been through it.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a loss of memory and other mental abilities caused by a disease or injury to the brain. It affects people of any age but is most common in older people. The diagnosis and the symptoms can be devastating to a family. It changes how they view their loved ones and what they once took for granted, such as walking down the street with them or even just getting dressed in the morning.

You must know what kind of caring services are available so you can get help if needed; however, there are also some things that caregivers shouldn't do themselves because they may harm themselves while they're trying to care for someone who needs them most.

What a Family Caregiver Does

Family caregivers are often the ones who take care of the person with dementia. They do things like help with daily living, help with medical issues, and provide emotional support. A family caregiver will try to keep seniors as independent as possible so they can live as every day of life as possible.

The Risk for Depression for Families and Caregivers

Depression is a common problem for caregivers. It can be tough to manage if the caregiver has a history of mental health problems. Caregivers are at high risk for depression if they have a history of mental health problems, such as anxiety or panic attacks. Depression may also happen more frequently in families where someone has dementia because caring for someone with dementia is stressful for everyone involved in the family dynamic.

Below are some methods you can implement to deal with the emotional side of caring for a loved one with dementia.

Make sure your expectations are realistic.

As you care for your loved one with dementia, it's important to remember that they are not the same person they used to be. They may no longer be able to drive or make their meals—or even remember how much medication they were taking in the past. It's also common for people with dementia who have lost their ability to speak or understand language as well as we do. This means that once you've learned what your loved one can and cannot say, try not asking questions that require more than yes/no responses (e.g., "Did you eat breakfast?").

It's also essential to keep an eye on physical and mental health. If signs of stress or depression affect your loved one, seek help immediately!

Try to maintain a sense of humor.

Humor can be helpful for both you and your loved one when it comes to coping with dementia. It can help you feel better, more relaxed, and happier.

Set limits, and be prepared to enforce them.

You've probably heard of the saying, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

It's an important question to ask yourself when dealing with dementia.

Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally draining and physically challenging for you. You may find yourself feeling like you're doing everything possible but still have trouble coping with all that needs doing around the house or at work. However, there are some things you can do as well:

  • Set limits on how much help your loved one needs. Some people prefer not to have anyone helping them around their home. Meanwhile, others need more than just one person caring for them at any given time (for example: if they have Alzheimer's disease).

  • Set limits on how long they'll spend with their caregiver. This will help keep everyone involved happy!

Say no when you need to.

It's easy to feel guilty when you say no. However, the truth is that sometimes taking care of others is not your responsibility. You cannot be responsible for everything in their lives, even if they ask you or demand it from you.

This can be especially hard for caregivers who desperately want their loved one's attention and affection but also know that they don't have time (or energy) on their hands anymore, either because they're caring for someone else 24/7 or because dementia has affected their ability to function normally as well as before its onset.

Don't forget about yourself.

As you care for your loved one, it's important to remember that you also have needs. Remembering to take care of yourself is a simple way to ensure you get the rest you need.

It's also important not to forget about yourself—you are human, after all! Caring for someone with dementia might require more attention than usual. However, there will also come a time when they need something from their family members or friends who love them dearly. It's alright if this means taking time out just for yourself; don't feel guilty about it!

Join a support group for dementia caregivers.

Joining a support group for dementia caregivers can be an excellent way to cope with the emotional side of caregiving. Support groups provide a safe place to share your experiences, learn new ways to cope, and find solutions to problems. They can also help you meet other people who are going through similar things or who have already gone through them and found ways of coping that work for them!

You Can Care for a Loved One with Dementia and Still be Mentally and Emotionally Healthy.

It is essential to take care of yourself. You may need to set limits and enforce them but do so in a way that makes sense for your situation.

It is also important to remember that dementia is not contagious; it does not cause any harm or danger if you have it. If someone else has dementia, they can still live independently at home as long as they are cared for properly by trained professionals like nurses and caregivers or family members who the Alzheimer's Association has trained.

The Medicaid CDPAP Program

Suppose you are a primary caregiver for a loved one with dementia in New York State. In that case, you may be eligible to receive payment through the Medicaid Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). The program provides financial assistance to people caring for loved ones with dementia. It pays caregivers an hourly wage for their services, including bathing, dressing, and feeding. It also covers transportation costs to and from doctor's appointments. 

Elite Home Care is a New York State Medicaid Fiscal Intermediary, proud to support you throughout your caregiving journey. We are responsible for administering and managing the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). The program allows patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities to choose their caregivers. These caregivers can be family members, friends, or even professional aides. This program gives patients and their families more control over their care. For queries or concerns contact us today.

Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services

Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.