Caring for someone with dementia is a role that takes time and energy. As a care partner, you will need help in caring for the person with dementia, and also support for yourself.
Many friends and family are well intentioned, but might not always know how to support you in the way that you’d like to be supported. It may be helpful to tell other family members and friends how you would like to be supported.
Be ready with suggestions when someone offers to help. Here are some examples:
- Asmani looks after her frail mother and her sister who has young onset dementia. After every doctor’s visit with her sister, she calls several family members to provide updates. This takes time to repeat the same story to multiple concerned family members. No one had offered to be the family spokesperson. As soon as Asmani asked for help with this, one of her siblings took over this role.
- Andrew lives with dementia. He was getting anxious each time his wife Jean left him alone at home and would phone her multiple times whenever she went out. A retired neighbour offered to help. Whenever Jean went out, the neighbour played cards with Andrew. The neighbour was happy to do this, and this gave Jean some stress-free time for shopping or a visit to the hairdresser.
- Sue liked time at home alone. Since Chris’ diagnosis, she felt she never had any ‘alone time’. She asked her son to take his dad out to the hardware store on a regular basis, which gave Chris and his son some time together. Sue was then able to have some quiet time at home which she needed and enjoyed.
Some care partners find it very difficult to ask for help. Asking for help is not ‘giving up’ or neglecting your responsibilities – it’s looking after yourself which is important when supporting someone over the long-term.
Accept help when you need it
Tell them how you would like to be supported, and what things you’d like to keep doing yourself. Have suggestions ready for when someone offers to help. For example, visiting the person with dementia for a few hours, or bringing you a cooked meal.