“Mom has dementia and I'm beginning to worry that I may have also.” Julie- Adult Daughter
Her Mom has dementia and Julie is not alone in her concern. She's a middle-aged woman who's been caring for her elderly mother with Dementia. She has been doing this for a couple of years now. Along with caring for Mom she also has two teenage children at home. She is also married and has a husband who needs her attention. It's not easy juggling everything. And they're just never seems to be enough time left over for Julie.
It's no wonder she's been forgetting things. But is it dementia? Could it be dementia?
Recent studies show that family caregivers have a higher chance of developing dementia. In fact, it’s about 6 times higher! Julie knows this and she scared.
Two factors may be to blame. Isolation and stress. We all experience stress in our lives. And some stress is actually good. It spurs us to move forward, complete a task, get that degree, etc.This kind of stress is not the problem.
Chronic Stress Is The Problem
It’s the excess stress of worrying and caring for everybody and forgetting about yourself which creates a problem.
Julie seems to be stuck in an endless loop of stressful thoughts. She worries about everyone else. Furthermore, she worries that she may not be doing enough.
Mom's Anxiety is Increasing
And it seems her mother’s anxiety has been increasing lately. This only adds fuel to the already burning fire of hopelessness and frustration Julie feels. But could Julie be part of the problem?
“I don't want my kids to have to go through what I'm going through with Mom.” Julie worries.
If you're worried that you may be developing dementia and you are a family caregiver it is time to take charge. This Six Week Challenge may be just what you need to reboot your brain. If after 6 weeks you are still having a lot of cognitive problems reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association for help. They may be able to direct you to a qualified doctor in your area for a full evaluation.
Carve out one hour every day just for you. Once a week find a way to have a longer break 3 or 4 hours at least. You will probably have resistance around this one. Most caregivers do. You may feel as if you are the only one who “gets” mom and can care for her. Or you may make excuses why other family members are not stepping up to the plate. But this step is non-negotiable. You must do this every day for the next 6 weeks.
So What Do I Do With My Time?
Spend that time doing something just for you. You are not allowed to run an errand for your husband, help a friend, or do anything for anyone else. One hour. It’s really not that long. You could read a book, meditate, go for a walk, have coffee or lunch with a friend or whatever makes you happy.
This is the hardest step! It is not going to be easy at first. After all, you are a caregiver. You take care of other people. But now it's time to take care of you so you can be there for everybody else. Does this make sense? Of course, it does.
Susan ended up in the hospital and had major heart surgery before she understood the importance of this exercise.
“I almost died! she told me.” Who would have taken care of my mom and my children? I realize now that not taking care of myself was selfish of me. After all I want to be the best daughter and the best mom. When I am not my best self I cannot show up fully for those I love?"
When you first try this exercise commit to it for 6 weeks. After the six weeks it should become habit. This is a way of life that can help to sustain you.
Build a Village
This means you're going to have to get other people involved to help. If other family members and friends are not willing to step in, you may have to hire somebody. If you absolutely cannot find it in your budget to hire somebody then find a volunteer.
Call Whoever You Need To and Get Help.
Ask a neighbor to sit with mom for an hour, a couple of days a week. In exchange, you could cook a meal for her family or do something else for her. Call your local churches. Some may have programs like the Gathering Place. This is a program when you can leave a loved one for a few hours. Planned programs for people with dementia are offered so caregivers can get a break. The Area Center on Aging and Disability may offer respite care. You have got to find a way to make this happen. It's critical for your life and your health.
Time to Move Mom
Consider the fact that the time may have come for you to move mom to a Memory Care community. While this may be the most difficult decision you have ever made, it may also be the wisest one. Get mom into an environment that understands and is equipped to deal with her disease. You may be surprised to see how she begins to thrive. And you can once again be her daughter. After all, isn’t that the role you were designed to be in?
Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.
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