A few helpful tips..
This time of year is a hard time for families caring for someone with alzheimers/dementia. Services shut down or go to a skeleton staff, family and friends go away for the holiday season, it is hot, tiring and the days are long. Carers are often exhausted and will look that way. I know this from personal experience.
Alongside caring comes a sense of inadequacy, self doubt, self loathing.. Am I doing enough? Am I enough? Why aren’t they happy? What am I doing wrong? On a daily basis I am plagued with these questions and on a daily basis I battle a demon that says I am not enough. I work hard to fight those demons off but sometimes it all gets a bit much. With the added stress of being in Martha’s company 24/7 and seeing family and friends more frequently it becomes harder and harder to not only deal with that feeling of inadequacy from within but also the pressure that society puts on you around this time of year to be happy, cheerful and oh so merry.
My most hated question as it comes to social gatherings with families and friends is “why don’t you put her into full time care?” at least every other week I get asked this anyway but as we near the end of the year it becomes more frequent and comments are made more offhanded.
So as a carer on behalf of carers I urge you to be careful with what you say to loved ones during the holiday season. Hopefully here are a few helpful tips
- If you want to have an open and honest conversation about putting a loved one into full time care please let your family member know that is what you want to do, schedule a time and come prepared. Don’t ambush your loved one when they might be feeling vulnerable and unprepared, Christmas day is not the time for this kind of comment or conversation.
- Don’t make an offhanded comment without any follow up, it isn’t nice to be made to feel you aren’t doing a good job, imagine this when you say “why don’t you put them into care?” is actually..
– why don’t you put your children in boarding school?
– why don’t you get a divorce?
– why don’t you quit your job?
– why don’t you put your pet down?
Imagine someone saying this to you and then walking away?
- Please don’t point out how exhausted someone looks, it is a tiring job that around the holidays becomes a 24/7 job. Instead maybe offer to come over for a couple of hours or have them stay with you for a few hours. Drop by with a cooked meal, mow their lawns, bring in the washing and my favorite.. bring coffee and/or wine and relax together.
- And lastly, let your loved one know that they are doing a great job!
I hope that this helps in some way.. Happy Holidays! xx