Coming to grips with a family member’s dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming and frightening – and if you are facing it, you’re most certainly not alone. There are a growing number of excellent resources out there to help you get a handle on the disease itself, learn how you can best offer support, and get the help you need to cope with the stresses of being a caregiver:
- Understanding dementia: Step one is getting a clear grasp on the disease itself. The Common Sense Guide to Dementia for Clinicians and Caregivers brings a reassuring, practical and thoughtful approach to the subject. We’ve also found an excellent video that explains the basics of dementia and Alzheimer’s, mapping out how they differ and what symptoms they share.
- What it Means to Be a Caregiver: Caring for Mother: A Daughter’s Long Goodbye is a helpful companion for someone embarking on the caregiver journey. Author Virginia Stem Owens gives a touching and realistic account of the emotional ups and downs you can expect when caring for someone with dementia. The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers is another excellent resource, offering empathetic guidance and support, as well as strategies for avoiding caregiver burnout.
- How to Get the Support You Need: “Caregiving starts as a sprint and turns into a marathon,” says Gail Sheehy, author of Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence. Knowing how to pace yourself is critical, and involves learning where to reach out for advice and support. Caregiving.com is a thriving online community that offers a free platform for its members to share tips and inspiration; it also hosts weekly live twitter chats on a wide range of caregiving topics.
Health concerns can crop up for caregivers who are well into the marathon stage; PBS offers an in-depth roundtable discussion that explores the importance of caregivers’ protecting their own health.
Have any tips of your own to share? We’d love to hear from you!