Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Living With Dementia

Sometimes I think dementia must be like living on a tiny desert island...alone.  As I work daily to care for my elderly friend, I see her slip farther and farther into the distance.

Last night she kept talking to a non-existent person in the room about me.  I reminded her three times that I was Linda...but she kept talking to the other person.  I asked her who I was and she just stared at me...it is terribly sad.  She sees people and hears things that just are not there.

She is also completely focused on her OWN needs. Just like a newborn, she doesn't care what you are doing, are what YOU might need...get me water, I gotta go pee, talk talk talk over everyone endlessly and repetitively....it is mind boggling.

It is very difficult as a caregiver to avoid becoming overwhelmed with all the daily demands of caring for someone with moderate to severe dementia.  You face the fact every day that things are NOT going to get better, and that there is very little or nothing you can do about it.  I haven't found any medications yet that seem to help much with the day to day problems of caring for my patient/friend.

I feed her foods she likes, try to take her places where I know she will enjoy the environment, and try to keep her comfortable.  That seems to be all that I can do.  The problem is, that I feel completely drained at the end of each day, and when morning comes, I find that I do not want to get out of bed.  I am fortunate enough to be able to afford a night sitter who comes in at midnight and stays until 8 AM so that I can get an uninterrupted night of sleep.  I tried for a time to do it all by myself.  It was completely exhausting, as she gets up anywhere from two to four times a night.

I feel the pain of caregivers everywhere trying to deal with this problem alone.  I wish I had some easy and helpful answers.  One thing for sure, any time you can get a tiny bit of respite, whether it is an hour while a home health aide comes in or a period of time when a friend can watch your charge, take it!
You must take care of yourself in order to manage caring for the demented person.

I have recently learned that Hospice can now accept patients with moderate to severe dementia, and have contacted them.  They have been a great help in deciding what medications would be appropriate to deal with agitation and hostility which are frequently displayed, as well as sleeping medications. 

I am sharing this to try and help any of you out there who may be in the same circumstances.  Whether it be your Mother, Spouse or friend it is NOT an easy task, and you can't let it overwhelm you.  You must find outlets for yourself, and seek help in any areas from anyone you can.  God Bless.

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