Caregiving Lessons From a Mother’s Dementia

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Dementia can be confusing and overwhelming, utilize the resources available, and learn to forgive.

Tiziana’s mother has dementia that is worsening by the day. Often, she struggles to find the right words to articulate just how difficult that is. But, if you have loved one suffering with severe dementia, you know exactly what words she is searching for.

Last weekend, she and her sisters discussed how to support their parents through this difficult time. They vented their feelings, concerns, and what they have learned thus far. On her trip home, she realized that others may benefit from the lessons and advice they shared.

First, not every moment is bad. Cherish the good ones that you have and share them with others, out loud. That way, you can experience them twice and help stay the course.

Second, dementia occurs in many forms. For example, frontotemporal dementia, the type her mother has, can lead to personality change that is not typical in Alzheimer’s disease. Find out what form of dementia your loved one has, and learn what means for him or her.

Those who are only partially involved with providing care often have the most difficulty with a loved one. It’s difficult to face the details and anticipate the symptoms and impact on life expectancy, but you need and should want to know. It can be extraordinarily helpful just to know what is “normal” for your loved one and what is unexpected or might be a symptom of something else.

Third, ask for a family meeting. Dementia can be confusing and overwhelming. A family meeting can help bring clarity to what’s going on for everyone involved. The doctors can discuss the condition of your loved one and answer questions.

Fourth, utilize a geriatric care manager! They will help you gain a better understanding of what is happening to your loved one, identify what type of care he or she needs now and in the future, identify what insurance will cover and even help you broker the care.

Last, be forgiving — of yourself and your loved one. Forgive your loved one for the emotional things the can no longer offer. Forgive them for being forever altered, and for leaving you while they remain in plain sight.

Forgive yourself for anger and impatience, it is only natural. Forgive yourself for the skills you lack for caring for someone with dementia. And forgive yourself for the times you wish it was all over.

You are not alone, and because of you, neither is the one you love.

Read more: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/06/forgive-lessons-dementia

Christopher J. Berry is a Michigan elder law attorney Dedicated to helping seniors, veterans and their families navigate the long-term care maze. To learn more visit http://www.michiganelderlawattorney.com/ or call 248.481.4000

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