Caring for a Person With Dementia
The Three Stages of Dementia continued...
In severe dementia, there may be extensive memory loss, limited or no mobility, difficulty swallowing, and bowel and bladder control issues. There may be a need for around-the-clock care. At this stage, the patient may have difficulty recognizing family members and caregivers.
Caregivers experiencing high stress levels during the moderate and severe stages may also be dealing with anticipatory grief associated with a feeling of impending loss of their loved one. Talking with the palliative care team's social worker can help caregivers understand these feelings and develop strategies for dealing with them.
Experts warn that caregivers who do not get such help may be more likely to experience a prolonged, complicated period of grief after their loved one dies.
Resources for Dementia Caregivers
There are many resources available to caregivers of a person diagnosed with dementia. The Alzheimer's Association (800-272-3900) will refer you to your local chapter for information, resources, and their hands-on caregiver training workshops.
"I've been to our local association's caregiver workshops and to their monthly support groups, too. Every time, when I leave, I've learned something -- techniques, strategies, things like that -- and that I'm not alone in this," says George Robby who is caring for his wife with Alzheimer's in their Chagrin Falls, Ohio, home.
Other good sources of information, assistance, and support include your local Area Agency on Aging (800-677-1116) and, for those caring for veterans, the Veterans Administration's Caregiver Support Program (855-260-3274). Some senior care companies, including Silverado Senior Living and Home Instead Senior Care, offer programs and skill-building workshops at their facilities.