Dementia Awareness Week: Supporting Dementia Caregivers

Dementia. We have all heard the term, whether it be from personal experience or through someone else. Dementia is a general term; not relating to a specific disease but referring to a chronic illness which affects memory and cognitive ability. With the increasing ageing population, the number of dementia cases is on the rise, with the highest cause being Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, in many cases, the person’s physical and cognitive condition will decline over time, increasing their need of dependence on others which can put a massive strain on relatives and those who care for them.


There are many reasons a person may become the caregiver of someone with dementia. Many tend to be the children or spouses and may be driven by a sense of love, duty, guilt, or even societal expectation. Understandably, it is better for the motivation to be positive and out of the person’s own choice to ensure a more positive experience for all involved. For some, this is an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with their loved ones.


Caring for someone, especially a loved one with dementia can have a massive impact on all aspects of that person’s life, so it is crucial to ensure they get the recognition they deserve, so they can get the support they need:



Counselling and Maintaining a Support Network


Caregiving can be rewarding, but it is also extremely challenging because it can impact the caregiver’s career, social life, and finances. The ongoing stress of caregiving can lead to burnout, which can jeopardize the caregiver’s own health in the short and long term. It is important for a caregiver, that they retain a sense of self and balance between their own life and the person they are caring for. It is both physical and emotional, many may find themselves grieving the loss of who the person they are caring for used to be as the illness progresses. Reaching out for external support emotionally can help with this, giving the person an opportunity to build meaningful connections and time to process their feelings and emotions.


Importance of Diagnosis


It is suspected that there are many cases going under-diagnosed. Although a formal diagnosis may seem scary, it decreases the unknown, giving time to process and plan what the next course of action might be. It ensures that relatives can access the correct information and support to get the best knowledge; it may be the driving force which brings others to help. In some cases, it may provide a sense of relief, putting a name and explanation to why the patient has been behaving a certain way.


Healthcare Professionals and Nursing Homes


The decision of going down this route falls to the caregiver as depending on the severity of the illness, the patient may no longer be capable of making the decision for themselves. In the UK, there is a needs assessment, which can be taken by both the caregiver and the patient to see if both can get extra support from local authorities. Getting this help can create respite for the caregiver so they can manage their own needs. In some cases, where the illness has increased in severity, the options of nursing homes will be able to offer round-the-clock care, ensuring the safety of the patient and putting the carers’ minds at ease when they can no longer manage their relative’s care on their own.


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Useful Websites:


NHS: Dementia Guide

Dementia UK

Alzheimer’s UK

Age UK

Dementia Together





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