Conversations with Dementia: Caregiver Stress

In this series, we will be discussing different aspects of talking about dementia from the first talk you might have with a loved one, to speaking with a doctor, to how to speak with someone who has dementia in a dignified manner.

We understand that for some people, sending your loved one who has dementia to a care community is not desirable. Many people choose to care for their loved in home so they can be with them. There is no one better to trust than yourself; however, if this is the decision you are making, you should have a conversation about the stress levels that come with being a caregiver and how that is going to change the way you live your life.

Stress is normal

Understanding the levels of stress is a good first step in this conversation. It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in this fight and that being stressed about the situation is normal and completely understandable.

To mitigate some of this stress, there are a couple of conversations you should be willing to have in order to take care of yourself.

Conversation with your family

First, a conversation with your family about what caring for your loved should look like. It is important to have an open dialogue with your spouse/partner and/or children about what is expected and needed. Helping to define roles for each family member in the caring process is a good way to keep yourself from taking on too much at once. Questions like:

  • Who cares for them in the morning?
  • Who will be responsible for certain household chores?
  • What happens if someone else in the family is sick and can’t complete their duties?
  • Is it about taking turns?
  • What are emergency situation procedures?

These are just a few questions to think about as you prepare. Don’t take it all on your own if you don’t have to. We also recommend continuing to check in as the caregiving continues. Keep people accountable and change responsibilities as needed to give yourself the best chance of keeping your stress levels down and everyone on the same page.

Take care of yourself!

The other conversation to be had is one with a therapist or counselor. All of us, in any walk of life, can use someone outside of our situation to talk to and help keep us on track. You don’t need to have a mental illness to utilize these services. If you have the means, find a professional in your area that you can talk to about the stressors in your life. A good counselor can give you different strategies to cope in healthy ways. It’s important in caregiving that you take care of you as much as you take care of your loved one.

“It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in this fight and that being stressed about the situation is normal and completely understandable.”

We can help!

And of course, on the hardest days, feel free to utilize our day programming at Kemper House Worthington. We can care for your loved one during a regular workday to give you a reprieve and help you get back on track. Maybe you need a day to clean or just decompress. Maybe you need to run errands while your spouse is out of town. We want to help! Feel free to get in touch with us to learn more about your options with our community.

Caregiving is a bold and inspiring choice to make if it is best for you and your family. Make sure you are having the conversations you need to have before you start and make sure you are having the conversations that take care of you.