Caregiving is like the airplane analogy when the flight attendant gives you the speech about "in the event of the plane going down - and the oxygen mask dropping from overhead, secure your own first BEFORE you secure your child's/relatives/significant others". You can't care for them if YOU are unconscious. It's the same with caring for a loved one with Dementia. It WILL drain you, both physically and mentally. You HAVE to take care of yourself so that you will be able to take care of your loved one in the manner that you want them cared for!
Stressed caregivers will feel angry at the person they care for; may overreact to minor frustrations with doctors, paid caregivers or other service providers; be irritable with family members; feel overwhelmed all the time; withdraw from contact with family/friends; feel anxious or worried all the time; feel depressed or hopeless; feel alone and that no one understands your situation; have trouble sleeping, even if you are physically tired; be unable to concentrate, forgetful and disorganized; and worst of all have a worsening of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and headaches! Even if you think, that won't happen to me...it will. Often, especially spouse care partners, will become chronically ill and even die before their loved one, because they are just worn out and sick themselves!
Connect with people to support your journey. You will need a care partner. A "handoff" when you need one. One that your loved one will be familiar with so as not to confuse them or upset their routine - which they will need to stick to.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Get help lined up early on. Take time off from responsibility! There is no guilt in taking care of yourself because remember, you can't pour from an empty cup! Your loved one needs you and needs you to be healthy, for them!
We at Ruby Pardue Blackburn Adult Day Health Care have an online support group through Facebook. Support groups are difficult to attend, especially when you are caring for a loved one and trying to "fit" everything into your day! Our Facebook support group is a Dementia support group that is a closed group. That means it is private. You must click the button to ask to join and answer a few simple questions so we are assured that you ARE a caregiver before we allow you "in". Then no one will be able to see any comments other than in this closed group. Our Facebook group is called "Diamonds of Dementia" and we welcome you to join us as we travel this journey together, offering information, support and answering questions to the best of our ability.