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Taking care of a loved one with dementia is tough; Caregivers Corner
Capital - 9/16/2018
Dear Mary, My husband was a very smart and independent man until he was diagnosed with dementia. Now he won't shower or dress himself or help around the house at all. The doctor said he shouldn't drive so now I have to do that, too. And he is so angry all the time. I don't know why he's angry when I'm doing everything. I don't know how much longer I can do this.
Dear Reader, Whew! There seems to be a lot of emotion going on in your house - your husband's anger and your frustration and, I imagine, a great deal of fear in both of you. If you haven't already done so, please reach out to other family members, friends or neighbors so you can get a break, even a short one, and regroup.
You didn't say how long ago your husband was diagnosed or how far along in the dementia he is. If the diagnoses was recent, his anger and inactivity may be reactions to it as he realizes what's happening and sees the loss of his independence occurring; depression is often symptom of dementia and anger is not uncommon.
If he is in the mid to later stages of the disease, it is quite possible that he can no longer perform routine tasks the same way he once did. While taking a shower may seem quite simple to you, it involves multiple steps. Individuals living with dementia have lost the ability to sequence and so this once simple task is now overwhelming; they don't know how to start or what to do.
It is important to remember that your husband is not acting this way on purpose. Try not to get upset or angry and do not take his behaviors as a personal affront to you. Rather than telling him what to do, look for the things he can still do and ask for his help.
Take care of yourself. Talk to your physician about the stress you are feeling. Eat nutritious means, get as much rest as possible and exercise. Get help immediately if you are feeling overwhelmed, angry, and depressed or are using drugs (to include prescription drugs) or alcohol to cope. Don't allow yourself to become isolated; maintain your friendships and cultivate a support system. Rituals such as prayer and meditation can generate inner peace and strengthen you immune system.
Realize that no one person can do it all. Identify the specific tasks you do; set priorities and let go of those things that are not important. Call a family meeting. Ask for help; accept help. If possible, hire someone to help with yard work, house cleaning or other tasks that are overwhelming.
Contact the Department of Aging and Disabilities at 410-222-4257 to find out what resources and support services are available for you and your husband within the department and in the community.
Learn as much as you can about your husband's dementia, such as what kinds of behavior can you expect over the next several years. Learn how to communicate with him so that neither of you becomes angry or frustrated.
The department's Family Caregiver Support Program offers free educational programming and a registry of Respite Care Referral Program workers to help with in-home care. In addition, the program offers twice monthly caregiver support groups where you can share your frustrations and fears in a supportive environment with other caregivers who understand your journey.
Routinely reassess your husband's needs and your ability to provide care. Learn what your options are if there comes a time when you can no longer provide the care he needs. I invite you to join us on Oct. 11 when registered nurse Marjorie Cotterman presents "When I Can No Longer Provide the Best Care" at the Pascal Senior Activity Center, 125 Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie. You can register online at www.aacounty.org/aging or call 410-222-4375.
Dear Readers, There are approximately 5.4 million Americans age 65 and older who are living with Alzheimer's disease. The "Communicating through Behaviors with Dementia Live" workshop is a high-impact, dementia simulation experience that immerses participants into life with dementia, resulting in a deeper understanding of what it's like to live with cognitive impairment and sensory change.
A limited number of spaces are available for the Sept. 27 workshop, which will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Department of Aging and Disabilities north county office, 7320 Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. For information or to register for this workshop, call 410-222-4375 or 410-222-4339.
Questions and comments can be sent to Mary Chaput at the Department of Aging and Disabilities, 7320 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie, MD 21061, or by contacting 410-222-4339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit: Mary Chaput - Questions and comments can be sent to Mary Chaput at the Department of Aging and Disabilities, 7320 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie, MD 21061, or by contacting 410-222-4339 or email@example.com.