The end-of-life stage can be particularly challenging for family caregivers. To provide care and support for the person with dementia, you need to remember to take care of your own physical and emotional health too.
Here are some suggestions to help care for yourself and boost your resilience:
- Accept your need to grieve and feel your loss before and after the person dies.
- Take breaks from caring for the person. Consider if there is someone you trust to spend time with your family member while you get some rest.
- Don’t assume people know what you need. Let family and friends know how they can help.
- Access local services in your community for help and support with daily care.
- Take time alone for yourself when you need it.
- Share your feelings with people you trust who are good listeners.
- Consider joining a support group or seek professional help if your feelings become overwhelming.
- Eat well, exercise and get lots of rest. Do something nice for yourself each day.
- Make time to do some of the things you enjoy.
- Caring for someone can easily become the main focus in your life. Try to maintain or rebuild relationships with good friends and be open to making some new ones.
- Express your grief and loss in creative ways through writing, painting, photography or other art forms.
- Recognize and value your growth as a person, which has resulted from caring for someone with dementia. You may have learned new skills, such as handling finances or delegating care tasks, become more compassionate, or developed an inner strength and resilience you didn’t realize you had.
"The support group allowed me to vent my frustrations and realize that others faced similar hurdles and fears. I went regularly to the meetings to ask questions about things that worried or angered me and, as my parents’ conditions deteriorated, guide the newer members of the group by sharing some of my hard-earned knowledge. Remember, don’t do it all yourself. Rely on others to help you." – Barbara Dylla, a former caregiver in Montreal
- Read Looking after you, the carer on page 38 in Dementia information for carers, families and friends of people with severe and end stage dementia by the University of Western Sydney
Next section: Getting the support you need