If both your parents have dementia, or a partner and a parent have been diagnosed, then you’re probably feeling overwhelmed. Caring for one person with dementia is hard enough – caring for two might seem impossible. Here’s a few ideas that could help
You may have come to terms with the fact that your partner or parent has dementia and that your life is going to change. But now you’re faced with another massive challenge…Discovering someone else you care about also has dementia can cause massive heartache and upheaval. You want to do your best for both of them, but the practical and emotional issues ahead might make you despair.
Perhaps the biggest change you’ll face is having so many demands on you and your time. Caring for two people inevitably means far more work, and that’s before you even consider all the different emotions you could experience
How you might feel
Alone – am I the only person going through this?
Angry – why is this happening to me?
Exhausted – I’m struggling to get through each day
Caring for two people who have always shown you love, and kindness is difficult enough, but if your relationship with either of them wasn’t particularly good, the feelings their dementia stirs up could be very complicated. Maybe you don’t want to care for one or both of them but feel you have no choice. Or maybe you do want to be their carer but worry that you aren’t up to it physically or emotionally.
Could this be YOU?
Your life is utterly changed, entirely dominated by the people you care for. Maybe you’re happy to do it and determined to just make the best of it, but still have days when you feel really low and worry that you’re not doing a good enough job.
What might help
1. Accept you can’t do it all
You don’t have time to sweat the small stuff. If you run yourself ragged, you’ll end up getting ill and – then what? Decide what’s really necessary, and what isn’t. If that means leaving the laundry, ironing, or household chores for another day – or week – then so be it. Your health matters more.
2. Be firm with friends
Next time someone smiles sympathetically and says, ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do…’ don’t just shake your head. Instead, seize the opportunity and try saying: ‘Well actually there is something…’ Then tell them about the many chores you’ve had to put on hold (see above). Even people who feel awkward dealing with dementia (sadly some still do) shouldn’t mind doing a few practical household tasks. In fact, it might even help to ease the guilt or sadness they’re feeling about the situation you’re in.
3. Talk to the people who really understand
If you’re lucky, you might be in touch with family, friends and professionals who will listen to you sound off and try to understand. But nothing beats a chat with someone who is on the dementia journey with you, experiencing similar challenges. If you don’t know anyone who’s caring for two people with dementia, the best way to find support is by going online and joining a support group. Once you’ve found someone you can relate to it doesn’t matter where they live because their experiences will echo yours and help you to feel less alone.
TIP: Our Unforgettable Dementia Support Group already has more than seven thousand members, including people like you who are caring for two people with dementia. Go here to join them.
4. Know your limits
There’s no shame in saying you can’t cope. Trying to struggle on when your own health or the health of the people you’re caring for is likely to suffer, could be dangerous for you all.