There are many different types of, and causes for, dementia. Alzheimers, strokes, and traumatic brain injuries are just a few.
I work on a Neuro unit of a hospital, so I see dementia patients most every day. Even if you have the patience of a saint, it can be very trying and frustrating. Many of these patients frequently forget where they are and why they’re there. They can be distrustful of their caregivers and very afraid. They often react to these feelings with anger and rude remarks, and sometimes violence. It’s a defense mechanism.
You will repeat yourself over and over, answer the same questions repeatedly, give the same reassurances. Over and over.
The patient didn’t ask to be in this position. It’s a terrible way to live, or it can be.
At the end of my shift, I go home, and I’m done dealing with dementia, at least until my next shift.
The people who have my utmost respect are the family members who care for dementia patients 24/7. In some cases, there are moments of clarity, but they are usually few and far between, and they diminish as the disease progresses. Caring for a loved one with dementia is physically and emotionally exhausting. It can last for months, years, even decades. It’s a huge commitment and a labor of love.
If you are in this position, know that you have my utmost respect.
In many communities, there are resources for you; respite and support groups. Use these resources!
Remember to take care of yourself.
If you know someone who is a caregiver for a dementia patient (or any ill relative),
offer to help them with a quick break, run an errand for them, stay with the patient
while the caregiver goes to their own appointment, or just has some time alone.
They are a fighting an incredibly hard battle.
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