Monday, February 10, 2014

Take Care of Yourself at All Costs

"If you don't take care of you, no one else will." What does this mean? We should eat right, exercise, make healthy choices and on and on.

This takes on a whole new meaning in the world of caregiving for a dementia patient. These "Care Warriors" as we call them are in constant "gotta get it done" mode.

There are no breaks to hit the local gym. There are no time outs for Zen, for taking a day just for them.

They are in a constant battle with the disease. It's a 24hrs a day, 7 days a week battle. And for what?

To try to give the best care they possibly can to their loved one. But, if you don't take care of yourself, no one else will.

This is what you could call a catch 22. You can leave your loved one for a few hours, but who do you leave them with?

It has to be someone who understands this disease. Understands your loved one. Understands their fears, the likes, their dis-likes.

Just having a family member drop by for a few hours isn't going to work. Even the best laid plan could fall apart in minutes.

The patient may not recognize who is going to be caring for them for this short period of time. They may not be responsive to them, they could even be afraid of them.

How is one to know? When you have a patient who is nonverbal, how are you to know they are indeed alright to be left with someone else?

This is a constant uphill battle that is never ending for the caregiver and families of a dementia patient.

When we say "Take care of yourself, cause no one else will", it is much harder than just doing that very thing.

Caring for a dementia patient is unlike any other disease. Especially in the later stage of dementia. The slightest thing can set them off. The stress of this could last for hours, or days.

What's the answer? That is the million dollar question. What do you do? Yes, you have to take care of yourself. So remove yourself from the emotions of leaving your loved one with someone else, perhaps.

See how that works for you. If you think you were stressed before, try taking a day for yourself and not worrying about your loved one. It won't work.

This is the very reason the death rate amongst caregivers with dementia is so high. It is indeed a disease that effects everyone around the patient.

Even the best of home heath nurses cannot fix this. Your love one has a disease of the brain, try to explain to them you need some time to recharge your batteries.

I wish I had the answer. My wife will deal with this situation one day. Every family member/caregiver will. The answer in my mind is, you do need to take care of yourself.

Period. We patients are no good to anyone if we are left alone because our spouse or primary caregiver has died.

What happens when you leave your loved one alone, is something you will just have to deal with. They may be scared, they may be stressed, they may be unruly to whoever is there with them.

But the alternative of you never taking care of yourself is one that will effect the patent, and of course you in the long run.

Dementia patients who primary caregiver has died will most likely be placed in a facility. Perhaps this is what you should be thinking about, planing ahead for.

You can die from caregiving. It happens all too often. Simply because the "Care Warriors" are just that. "Care Warriors". They need to take care of themselves.

No matter what the cost..."While They Still Can..."