What can I do to better prepare myself for dealing with a dementia parent?
Answered by David Troxel
What can I do to better prepare myself for dealing with a dementia parent? I feel I need anger management classes. There are so many things that are said that are incorrect. I feel bad correcting everything. I know I am angry because my “Dad” is gone!
Welcome to the caregiving club. Any of us who have been in your shoes have made lots of mistakes and sometimes one cannot help but a bit angry at the universe.
I think it’s important to work on empathy and acceptance. Think about this analogy. If your dad had a broken arm, you could see the cast. You wouldn’t be angry for him because he couldn’t put on his sweater. With dementia, in many ways, his brain is “broken.” You can see some very visible examples of this if you Google images of PET scans and Alzheimer’s. You can literally see whole areas of the brain not lighting up.
I hope that this first step will begin to help you understand that his situation is real and to become a bit less reactive to him and his “mistakes.”
I also recommend finding a good caregiver support group. Meeting people who have gone through the same thing can be powerful and they will give you lots of tips and coaching.
My own book for families on caregiving may help you travel your journey. It’s called, A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care. The book (co-written with Virginia Bell) has lots of practical advice to help you recast the relationship.
If after these steps, you still feel frustrated and angry, it’s okay to admit that you may just not be a good caregiver for your dad. Seek out other resources including in-home help or residential care to give him the best quality of life possible and to give yourself a break.