If you're the family caregiver of a loved one who has reached the last stage of their dementia, you may experience a host of feelings that exhaust you mentally, emotionally and physically. Finding positive ways to cope with your feelings may not be as simple as you want it to be. Although you may place much of your focus on making your loved one feel as comfortable as you possibly can, you neglect your own needs in doing so. There are some things you might do to regain control over your turbulent life, including these below.
Take Time Out and Get Help From Hospice
Late-stage dementia is often the most difficult time for families and caregivers because their loved one's cognitive and physical health declines significantly. As the last and most prevalent stage of dementia, late-stage dementia requires you to make decisions about your loved one's care that can be both stressful and painful. You may not be ready to face some of the tough decisions you need to make, including pre-arranging your loved one's funeral or placing them on a feeding tube.
By the time your loved one enters the last stage of their illness, they lose their ability to recognize you or your name. Your loved one may even forget how to talk, eat, use the bathroom, and walk. Much of your parent's care depends on you, which may place stress on you emotionally and physically. If you suffer from your own health complications, such as back pain and anxiety, your health may decline because of your duties.
It's important to remember to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. You may want to ask hospice care respite workers to take over some of your duties for a day or so. Hospice does offer assistance to families and family caregivers, so don't be afraid to ask for it. Respite care can be for a few hours or several months, depending on your needs.
During your time off, engage in activities that allow you to relax emotionally and physically, such as going for a short trip or visiting other people you may not see often. If you haven't seen your own doctors in awhile, be sure to do so during your breaks.
You can also obtain counseling services during your respite breaks to help you overcome your stressful feelings.
Counseling is one of the most unique ways to help you get through the stress many caregivers experience with dementia patients. Your stress may make you feel depressed, anxious and angry at times. If you've been your beloved parent's caregiver since physicians first diagnosed them with the disease, you may also feel isolated and alone. Counseling may address these emotions, as well as many others.
During counseling, you may want to discuss how you feel about your loved one's illness and how it affects you. While it doesn't happen with every family caregiver, some people feel guilty about their abilities to provide good care to their loved ones. For instance, you may not feel like you're doing your best to provide the care your parent needs. You may even feel guilty that you're tired from your duties.
Counseling may also help you deal with your feelings of anger. For example, you might be angry at your siblings, cousins and other family members for not helping you with your loved one's care. Even if your family has other pressing obligations, such as young children or jobs, you may still feel as though they can do something to make it easier on you.
With the right counseling, you learn how to cope with your caregiving duties and the feelings that come with them. Your coping mechanisms may include using breathing techniques to calm your nerves or writing down how you feel in a notebook or diary. Counselors may make regular appointments for you until you feel strong enough to handle your stress in more positive ways. But this is something you should discuss with your counselors when you see them.
For more information about counseling services, contact a specialist at a center like Comprehensive Behavioral Health Associates Inc today.