Dementia is a tough disease for the person living with it and those who love them. There’s no denying the physical and emotional toll it can take on a family caregiver. While it can be rewarding to care for a loved one during this journey, it’s important to acknowledge that guilt and frustration are common and normal emotions, too.

The challenges of the disease itself are what make being a dementia caregiver so difficult. People with Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, can seemingly go for days without sleep. To keep them safe and protected, a caregiver might be forced to stay awake, too. Because of the damage dementia causes to the brain, there are behaviors that are hard to navigate as well. People with dementia often experience agitation, anxiety, and tearfulness.

One of the keys to surviving the emotional rollercoaster family caregivers often experience is learning how to manage caregiver guilt, fear, and frustration. We have some suggestions that we hope you will find useful.

Managing Difficult Caregiver Emotions

Our first piece of advice is to be kind to yourself. Caregiving for someone you love is difficult work, no matter how rewarding it is. When a senior loved one has dementia, the role is exceptionally tough. As the illness progresses, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia rob a person of their independence and ability to communicate. Setting aside the physical demands of care, there is the sadness associated with watching your family member decline.

Other steps you can take to manage the difficult emotional journey of a dementia caregiver include:

  • Journaling: One method of coping with the guilt, fear, and frustration you are feeling is by journaling. It’s an effective solution used by many, including cancer patients, hospice team members, and those in recovery from substance abuse. One practice you might find particularly helpful is known as reflect and release. These tips and prompts for reflective journaling might help you get started.
  • Asking for help: Family caregivers often feel as if they need to handle everything on their own. While it’s understandable to want to help your loved one as much as possible, this can lead to caregiver overload or burnout. Reaching out to friends and family for help, such as assistance running errands or sitting with your senior while you get out for a bit, might ease some of the tough emotions you are experiencing.
  • Utilizing respite: Another option to consider is using respite care regularly. Your loved one can stay at a dementia care community for a few days or weeks while you take a break. You can relax and enjoy time to yourself knowing they are in the hands of expert, professional caregivers.
  • Joining a support group: Finding a group of peers who are walking a similar path with a family member is another good way to help you cope with the challenges of caring for a person with dementia. You could call the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to investigate in-person support groups that meet in your area. You’ll likely find one at a nearby church or senior center. If you prefer an online support group, this resource from the Alzheimer’s Association can help you connect with one.
  • Taking a daily walk: Finally, another good way to clear your head is to take a quick walk outdoors every day. Even if you have to bundle up against the cold or take an umbrella with you, connecting with nature can help boost the spirits and bring a sense of peace.

Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Because we understand the challenges living with a memory impairment creates, we created a specialized form of care for older adults living with dementia. We provide an environment that works around disease-related obstacles to help enhance the quality of life for residents.

No detail is overlooked in our Michigan dementia care communities. From an individualized plan of care to dedicated dining and meaningful daily activities, it’s a solution that benefits older adults and their families. We invite you to call the Heritage location nearest you to learn more!