While full-time caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be rewarding, it can also be all-consuming. It takes its toll both mentally and physically on carers. The pandemic has also made it that much harder by isolating Alzheimer’s carers from their much-needed support system, as well as prevented them from being able to participate in things that help them restore their mental well being. It is very important for Alzheimer’s carers to prioritise their mental health, as it not only benefits the carer but also the person that they are looking after. 

Alzheimer’s carers are most at risk to develop compassion fatigue or depression, due to the high intensity of the care they need to provide. They face the overwhelming emotions that come from watching as their loved ones’ disease progresses every day. The fatigue and exhaustion of round the clock dementia care, coupled with the isolation of the work, all add up. 

Alzheimer’s carers who get less support while caring for someone with dementia are more likely to feel stressed and depressed. It’s important to know if you are a carer, that you are not alone in these feelings. There are a few ways that carers can get more support to take care of their own mental health.

Types of support for Alzheimer’s carers mental wellbeing 

Respite care

Respite services give caregivers the opportunity to take a break from constant caregiving, while still providing care and a safe place for their loved one. Making use of respite care helps you to provide the best care that you can while also prioritising your own needs. Livewell Estates provide day and holiday dementia care as well as a permanent residence for dementia patients.

Practical support

Practical support can also help to make everyday activities easier and make you feel more equipped to handle the unique challenges of caring for someone with dementia. Practical support can come in the form of reliable information sources or even adaptations in the home.

  • Information: You can get valuable and accurate information from Alzheimer’s South Africa, dementia support groups and medical professionals. There is a lot of information online, which can be overwhelming, which is why it is best to take your cues from legitimate sources or go straight to the medical professionals. 
  • Home adaptations: Mobility becomes difficult for people with dementia, and some simple adaptations to the home can make life easier for you and the person you care for. Making sure that carpets or mats are glued down properly or placed so that they don’t trip up, or making rooms more accessible for a wheelchair or walking frames by removing clutter and larger furniture. Also installing assistive handles in the bathroom or a shower seat will help the person with dementia to be more independent for longer. It all helps to take some of the tasks out of your hands, as well as to not create more work for you.  

Community

Emotional support is incredibly important for Alzheimer’s carers. There are all kinds of support, from family and friends to online communities and local dementia support groups. It all helps to combat the isolation and loneliness of caring for a loved one and it helps to know that you’re not alone in the challenges you are facing. You can lean on and learn from others, vent your frustrations, and even help others solve their problems. It is an intensely rewarding experience. 

There are plenty of options for online communities, including Livewell Estates own private Dementia Care Support Group which you can join on Facebook or take a look at our latest Wellness Talks on YouTube.