Impact of dementia on the relationship with a caretaker
Living with a degenerative mental disease is quite a challenge for the afflicted, but its effects are also felt by those around them. This is especially the case for close family or a spouse who transitions into being the primary caretaker for a senior with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, and many other forms of dementia, change more than just the emotional dynamic, leaving many overwhelmed. In many cases, the problem arises due to the added responsibility that comes with dementia care.
For a spouse, the shift in intimacy alone can pose problems, especially when it comes to communication. However, symptoms of illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease gradually worsen with time and don’t occur unexpectedly. With proper communication, you, as a caretaker, can use this time to discern what you can handle and what requires professional assistance. To help you better understand what to expect, here’s how dementia can adversely affect personal relationships within a family.
Increased feelings of frustration and anger
Taking care of a family member with dementia is no easy task. This is because the symptoms can make it exceedingly difficult to communicate and interact with a dementia patient. Even something as simple as breakfast can become very hard to get through and this can lead to anger. It is important to note that this feeling is normal and expected for first-time caretakers. For spouses who become the primary caretakers of their dementia-stricken partners, this can be particularly frustrating as the relationship gradually becomes one of complete co-dependency.
Change in physical intimacy
When a partner or spouse is diagnosed with dementia, it is important to expect changes with regards to intimacy. The common misconception with dementia is that once diagnosed, seniors lose their ability to be intimate with partners and loved ones. This type of misleading information is harmful and is why it helps to know the common myths about dementia to avoid complications.
Overtime, and as the dementia progresses, the definition of intimacy is likely to alter and as a caretaker, there are a few important things to note. First, dementia can either increase or decrease the interest in sexual intimacy. Secondly, the expression of physical intimacy is also likely to change. This is particularly challenging for couples who’ve developed a bond over the years as dementia can bring on unwelcome changes. However, the goal should be to find mutual comfort with your partner, and this can be achieved through something as small as a simple pat on the back or a handshake.
Declining quality of the relationship between caregiver and patient
With a diagnosis of dementia also comes a shift in the dynamic of the relationship. For married couples, this is a common point of conflict as those suffering with dementia often face issues of inferiority. Not feeling like an equal to your partner can lead to consequences such as stress, frustration, and angry outbursts, which add further pressure to the relationship. This is not only restricted to married couples as even caregivers who are family or children can bring out such a response. These can cause a decline in the quality of the relationship and lead to a loss of closeness in caregivers.
Added financial pressure due to medical expenses
Dementia treatment requires medication, which is often expensive. In addition to that, as a caretaker, you may also need to make structural changes to your home to make it safer for your loved one with dementia and prevent the occurrence of falls. All these expenses exert a great amount of pressure and can cause friction or the feeling of being overwhelmed, especially if you’re dealing with it alone. To avoid conflicts, it may be wise to seek out help such as joining a Caregiver’s Forum like the one Kshetra offers.
The effects of dementia on the afflicted are widely known, and it is equally important to acknowledge the impact of dementia on caregivers. Your mental health is of key importance and being aware of potential areas of conflict can help smoothen the transition and even make the experience a rewarding one.
However, for families that need professional help, Kshetra has a comprehensive Dementia Care program at its Assisted Living facility. Here, senior citizens have access to trained non-medical staff, who assist with feeding, bathing, grooming, and other needs such as medication administration. They also can meet with therapists, physicians, and medical professionals should the need arise.
Further, Kshetra’s Caregiver’s Forum helps caretakers get help from professionals such as therapists and medical practitioners on topics related to elder care. These range from tips for coping with increased stress to the best practices for dementia care at home. To know more about all these senior care services and provisions, get in touch with us.