Watching your loved ones, spouses, parents and even children struggle with everyday activities creates an array of emotions. Family members are often unsure when to speak to a loved one about problems they’re observing. Symptoms may include; increased forgetfulness, difficulty with driving, preparing meals and keeping up with hygiene just to mention a few. Generally, earlier intervention is better. For example; some illnesses that are common in the elderly respond well to medication. Also, starting medication earlier rather than later can prevent suffering.
Once involved, caregivers face many challenges as they balance caregiving with other demands including; children, career, relationships. They can be an increased risk for burden, stress, and depression. Strain can manifest as psychological morbidity, including depression and anxiety. A robust relationship between dementia caregiving and negative effects on psychological health has been demonstrated in numerous studies. The effects on caregivers are diverse and complex, and there are many other variables that may exacerbate how caregivers respond and feel as a result of their new role/responsibilities.
There are many available ways for caregivers to explore as they experience these additional responsibilities. Seeking supportive counseling, psychotherapy or attending a support group, can empower, strengthen and provide opportunity for the caregiver to replenish, receive validation and be educated on additional resources.