I’m back again with the one thing caregivers should know (except, yeah, this is the 3rd one thing). But here goes…
The One Thing…
…the one thing caregivers should keep in mind…
…is that you can’t fix dementia.
It sounds simple, right. Dementia is not something you can cure. It is, by definition, progressive.
As a caregiver, you can’t stop the progress.
I know some caregivers who are superheroes. They can name the nine medications their loved one is on (and correctly pronounce them) and tell you the dosages of each off the top of their head. They can get by on minimal sleep. They can juggle various medical appointments and make sure their loved one is in the right place at the right time. They can, at midnight, put out the clothes their loved one will wear in the morning. They accompany their loved ones to the bathroom; maybe they even change Depends.
It’s a lot. They break down sometimes, but they are amazing. Loving. Kind. Committed. Loyal. I could go on…
But they can’t fix dementia.
Love doesn’t fix dementia. (Repeat that to yourself.)
If you see dementia progression in your loved one, you are not doing something wrong. This is how the disease works. No matter how many puzzles you’ve put together, no matter how many books you’ve read to her, no matter the healthy diet you put her on.
It’s hard to watch, I know. But please know that you are not responsible when dementia progresses. Dementia can be a beast. And you can’t do anything about that. Do not beat yourself up when dementia progresses. That what dementia does. It gets worse. Sometimes it progresses slowly and sometimes it progresses quickly, but you are on dementia’s timeline.
That’s not to say what you do doesn’t matter. It absolutely matters. You work hard to give your loved one the best possible quality of life. That doesn’t mean dementia goes away. It means that we do the best we can to exist and work within the life dementia allows us.
We live our best lives and try to give the same to our loved ones with dementia. That’s the best we’ve got. We don’t have reliable treatment or medication to cure dementia. We just have care. And care matters. Love matters.
You do the best you can to love and live through dementia.
And that’s enough. It’s all we can do, and it’s enough.
I don’t usually do stuff like this, but how about a little exercise for caregivers? Fill in the blank: I can’t fix dementia but I can __________.
What can you do?
Love? Be there? Give the person dignity and respect? Work to communicate in a dementia-friendly way?
Now, you make one up.
I can’t fix dementia but I can ________________.
And that’s enough.