Caring for a loved one with dementia, although often very rewarding, is rarely easy. In fact, research has shown that people who care for a family member with dementia have an increased risk of depression and anxiety themselves. This can cause real long-term issues for carers and can make daily life even harder for both the carer and their loved one.
Although it’s impossible to remove all the challenges that come with caring for a loved one with dementia, there are a number of coping skills and strategies that people can use to help make life that little bit easier. Designed to help carers focus on the positive things in life, these skills can make a big difference to those on a dementia journey
Recognise a positive event each day
Taking the time each day to recognise something positive can help to boost happiness and make you feel a little more optimistic. This positive event could involve the person you’re caring for or it could be something unrelated. It’s the act of focusing on the positive that will help to stave off depression and anxiety and give you the boost you need.
Tell someone about your positive experience
You can get even more from your positive experience if you tell someone about it. Passing on your positivity will reinforce its effects and help you to stay optimistic for longer. If you don’t have anyone to tell that day, write it down in a journal and save up your positive anecdotes for later.
List a personal strength
As well as recognising the positives in other people and situations, it’s important to recognise your own strengths and achievements. Think about how you’ve risen to meet the challenges you face and how your own personal strength has helped you to care for your loved one and overcome adversity. Acknowledging your own strength will only make you stronger and should give you the confidence you need to face daily life head on.
Set an attainable goal each day
The key to this coping strategy is making your goal truly attainable. If you make your targets unrealistic, you’ll only make yourself feel worse if you’re unable to achieve them. Choose a goal like leaving the house, visiting a local attraction or stopping for a bite to eat in a nearby café. Hitting these goals will help to boost your confidence, give you a sense of achievement and put you in a good mood.
Identify your stressors
Sometimes, however hard you try, you’re going to come up against significant challenges when caring for someone with dementia. If possible, try to identify the stressors that make these situations worse and think of ways to overcome them. For example, if being tired makes life harder, try to get a little extra sleep so you feel more refreshed. Alternatively, if you find something like doing the grocery shop is a consistently stressful part of your week, think about switching to an online order so you can avoid the stressor altogether.
Caring for someone with dementia brings a range of daily challenges, it’s essential as you face these challenges that whenever possible you take some time each day to focus on your own well-being and happiness.