A dementia caregiver can be significantly overwhelmed by many things. Daily living activities such as eating, bathing and dressing can be much more challenging. Dementia-related behaviors such as repeating questions or wandering off can cause frustration.
Frustration can hurt your health, both physically and mentally. Since you can’t change the behavior of the person with dementia, you’ll need to change yours.
In this article we will cover:
How to change your behavior and reactions
When you have a situation you can’t change, then you need to change your attitude. Changing the way you react to a behavior which causes you annoyance is the key.
You need to recognize the warning signs of frustration and realize your annoyance will be heightened if you’re not giving yourself breaks. Finding balance is essential for maintaining both your quality of life and the person you’re providing care to.
First, learn how to calm yourself physically. Change your thoughts and reduce your rising stress level. When speaking to your loved one, be assertive without being nasty.
Last, if you’re overwhelmed don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Hiring a home health aide is an excellent solution. It is important you try to take some time off of your caregiver activities to refresh yourself to keep up with the caregiver journey.
Dementia caregiver -Warning signs of frustration
There are some warning signs when frustration starts to take its toll in dementia caregiving. These signs could be a knot in your throat, shortness of breath, chest pains, stomach cramps or a headache.
You may also suffer from overeating, smoking more than usual or consuming more alcohol than usual. There could be a lack of patience and an urge to strike out at the loved one with dementia.
The signs of frustration are heightened when you have not voluntarily chosen to be a caregiver. Family members often have to assume this role on top of their other obligations, such as raising children and working a full-time job. The risk factors for frustration include:
- Social isolation
- Financial difficulties
- Increased number of hours spent caregiving
- Lack of coping skills
- Living with the person you’re caring for, which is common with dementia patients
Therefore, it’s important to recognize the warning signs and also know if you are at an increased risk for frustration, burnout, and emotional exhaustion.
When you become overly frustrated
When you start to feel yourself losing control, take a few deep breaths and then count to ten. You could go for a walk or leave the room for a few minutes. It is better than reacting poorly or losing control of the situation.
Another way is to think about why you responded to the incident in the way that you did. You might find out that negative thinking had a part in it. When you have negative thinking affecting a situation, you will find that this contributes to the irritation.
Identifying Negative Thought Patterns
Consider these examples of negative thought patterns:
A negative situation or an incident is multiplied over and over again in your mind until it’s blown out of context.
Discounting the Positive:
You can’t find anything good to say about you or the situation. Being a dementia caregiver is not easy, and you need to feel good about yourself for taking on the job.
Motivation does not come about based on should. Depression, guilt, and frustration are what comes out of “should” statements. “Should” is a word that conflicts with what you want to do. You need a break sometimes; seeing a movie or going to dinner where you have time with yourself is something everyone needs.
Adverse occurrences happen in caregiving, stop taking the blame. An example would be if your loved one needed more care than you could provide. Personalization would be thinking it was your fault even though it wasn’t. Sometimes, a loved one’s disease progresses beyond what you can do as a caregiver.
Consider taking a course in dementia caregiver training. This course will help you to understand how dementia progresses. It will explain the behaviors to expect and how to handle behaviors which are challenging and how to engage your family member in activities for mind, body, and soul.
Last, but not least in the advice, join a caregiver support group. There you will find other people in your situation who may have some ideas to help you. Caregivers can relate to your experiences and will be able to share self-care tips.
If nothing else, when you vent, they’ll know what you’re talking about because they’ve been there.