Creating a strong support system is a powerful way to stay in control
Dementia is usually a long-lasting condition. You will need emotional and practical support over the long term. Think through whom you can call on for support and make a list. Different people will be able to offer different types of support. For example, there may be one person, or a few people, whom you can call regularly, but someone else who is best to call in an emergency. Here are some suggestions of who you can reach out to for support. Read the list below and start making your own list of potential support people:
- Your family, your friends, and your neighbours
- A dementia or care partners’ support group (ask about useful supports others have found)
- Health care professionals, including your family doctor or nurse practitioner, the person with dementia’s doctor, specialists, and other providers such as occupational therapists or psychologists
- Community and social service providers or supports, including your local Alzheimer’s society staff, or social workers. The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada phone number is 1-800-616-8816 (toll-free). Ask to be directed to your local society.
- There are support groups on-line and on Facebook that can allow you to chat or reach out to others at any time of the day
- As you think of people, write down their names and telephone numbers or e-mail addresses and how they might be able to assist. Talk to these people about being part of your support network. You may be surprised about how generous people can be.
One care partner told us that she kept a list of all her possible support people and their phone numbers at the back of her phone book in case she ever needed it in a hurry. Iris said:
“It gives me peace of mind, I can always phone my daughter, but she has busy teenagers and might not be available. This way I have a back-up plan.”
Plan so you don’t become exhausted
Use the support system you have identified to help you. You do not have to do everything yourself. When you come across a new issue or problem, talk to others in your support system. Ask for help before you become exhausted and practice accepting assistance when it is offered. It might be hard at first, but others want to help you – just as you would want to help them. Consider taking a break for a few hours, a few days, or even a week or two on a regular basis to “recharge your batteries”.
Looking after your health and well-being is a priority. Ensure that you have check-ups with your doctor as required, a healthy diet, adequate exercise, and enough sleep. One idea to try is to write down three things that you enjoy. You may want to put this list on the fridge as a reminder, and make sure you do these on a regular basis. Make sure you keep up your social contacts. If you can’t do this in person, make phone calls or catch-up using video chat with FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
Get help with symptom management
Changes in the person with dementia’s function or personality can be physically and emotionally stressful and may contribute to depression in care partners. Try to get help early to understand why symptoms might be occurring and how you can effectively manage them. Another section of this website called Managing symptoms and changes provides more details.
Practice positive self-talk
- Write down 3 things that have meaning and ‘nurture’ you, to do for yourself. You can put them on the fridge as a reminder.
Contact Your Local Alzheimer’s Society
- The staff will listen to you and help to point you in the right direction. Some local societies offer free counselling.
- To find your local Alzheimer’s Society click your provincial link below. On the top left of the page, you can click “Change your Society” and select your local chapter.
Alzheimer Society of British Columbia: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Manitoba: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Ontario: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Quebec: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia: Click Here
Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador: Click Here
Call toll-free: 1-800-616-8816 and ask to be directed to your local society.