LOOK AFTER YOURSELF CARING FOR A RELATIVE WITH DEMENTIA: ISOLATION

Many carers feel extremely isolated when the immensity of the task ahead dawns on them. Some have struggled on for years before realizing that many people are in a similar position to themselves. The isolation is not just psychological, but also physical. Some sufferers with dementia require almost constant attendance, twenty-four hours a day. This gives little opportunity for a carer, particularly an elderly spouse who may have physical problems of his or her own, to get out and meet other people, other than the occasional short trip to the shops. Social activities often take second place to what appear to be more essential daily tasks. The situation is often compounded by embarrassment at the behavioural abnormalities that so frequently occur. If the doctor or other professionals are found to be caring, supportive, and understanding of the carer's predicament, they may themselves help to break the feeling of isolation and at the same time point a carer in the direction of additional forms of help.

Many people find themselves in a situation where it is the very person to whom they would have turned for help that has developed the dementia. This can be a particularly cruel predicament and it is essential that a carer in this situation makes contact with others, either through a support group, or day hospital, or day centre, or via family and friends. In particular, discover what type of day care and sitting-in services are available in your area, which will enable you to break free and meet other people.

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General Health