LOOK AFTER YOURSELF CARING FOR A RELATIVE WITH DEMENTIA: SHOULD YOU HAVE DONE MORE?
Those of us working closely with people who have dementia and who get to know well those caring for them are often told by carers that they wished they had done more, particularly after the sufferer has died or been admitted to a home or hospital for long-term care. This is very much tied up with the feelings of guilt discussed earlier. Remember that it is easy to be wise after the event. Remember also that it is very unlikely that you really could have done any more than you have, however much it may now seem that you could or should have. As already mentioned, caring for a person with dementia is a matter of compromises and there will always be room for nagging doubts and worries about the past. Even if you have made a mistake, you must remember that you will not be alone in this. Everybody makes mistakes and most people make theirs without having to cope with the very great strains that are involved in looking after someone with dementia.
You may find that you can help other carers by passing on your experiences, but it may well take a while after bereavement before this is possible. Similarly, some carers who have agreed to allow the sufferer to go into long-term care may feel too guilty to want to go on sharing their experiences with others. Nevertheless it is worth bearing this in mind and continuing to attend the support group or joining one if you are not already a member. Local voluntary organizations such as the nearest branch of the Alzheimer's Disease Society may also be very pleased to have your help in any one of a number of ways.
Whatever happens, try not to let worries about the past prevent you from starting again with your life, and remember that looking after someone with dementia is in itself a major achievement.