Dementia is one of the most difficult medical issues that families face today. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Each year, 16 million people provide nearly 17 billion hours of unpaid care for family and friends with dementia.
If someone you love has received a troubling diagnosis, I’d like to offer some helpful advice for making the journey as smooth and meaningful as possible.
First, seek out sound medical advice. There is no cure for dementia, but medications and treatments can minimize its effects and slow down its progression. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for optimal management of the disease.
Second, effective caregiving is rooted in positive self-care. This means two things:
- You’re more likely to resent your role and to suffer greater stress if you’re caregiving from a sense of guilt or obligation rather than positive motivation.
- Don’t try to handle the responsibility for caregiving alone. You need an opportunity to recharge emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Ask your family and friends for help. Eventually, you will need their support and encouragement.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming. But sound medical advice and positive self-care will equip you to help your loved one through their journey with love and grace.