If the big day itself didn’t go exactly as you hoped, try not to dwell on it. Instead, remind yourself of the good moments, however small, and don’t blame yourself for the rest. Dementia care is all about ‘living in the moment.’ Why not apply this principle to your own life? After all, it’s unlikely that the person you love will still be upset about something that happened on Christmas Day…so why should you be?
Focus on the positive
It can be very hard to remain positive when you’re dealing with dementia, but spending a few minutes every day focusing on something that went right (rather than all the things that may have gone wrong) can be good for your health and well-being, according to research. Several studies have confirmed that when life is really difficult, learning to appreciate even the smallest positive experience (such as a smile from a loved one) can boost your mood and make you feel more motivated.
If you’ve been away for Christmas or had guests to stay, the break in routine may have had an adverse effect on the person you love. Doing something different for a couple of days can make a nice change, but it’s wise to get back into a familiar routine fairly quickly. People with dementia generally feel calmer and happier when they’re in an environment they recognise and understand. Find out how to create a daily care plan for someone with dementia here.
Know your triggers (and theirs)
Does the person you care for say – or do– the same thing, over and over again? This might be extremely irritating and cause a lot of tension, but it isn’t deliberate and it’s rarely harmful. Generally speaking, it’s wise to look beyond the behaviour (annoying though it is) and try to work out why it’s happening. For example, does it occur at a particular time or day of the week when they’re feeling tired? Working out the triggers can help you understand it. For more information go here.
Ask for help
This might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many carers don’t do it…until they’re absolutely desperate and/or becoming ill themselves. You may find it difficult to ask for help, or to admit that you’re struggling to cope. If you’ve been suffering silently, friends and family might not realise how difficult caring for a person with dementia can be, but you shouldn’t have to do it all on your own. Start by having a few honest conversations and being specific about the sort of help you need. For example, do you want help with practical chores, a bit of respite care or a regular chat about how you’re feeling?
Tip If you haven’t had one already, make it your New Year’s Resolution to get a carer’s assessment. You might be entitled to more support than you think, or be able to access respite care and support groups you didn’t know about. Go here for more information.
If you’re feeling down or in doubt of your ability, the best people you can talk to are others who are going through something similar. Sharing your experiences with other carers who really understand what it’s like to have a difficult day, can lift and encourage you. There are hundreds of support groups nationwide or you could try an online group. Find something to suit you by going here.
In need of inspiration or comfort? For words of wisdom that might help you feel a bit better go here.