How not to be a frustrated dementia caregiver

How not to be a frustrated dementia caregiverA frustrated caregiver is not one who didn’t really want to be a caregiver but actually wanted to be a lumberjack. A frustrated caregiver is one who has succumbed to the stress of caring for a loved one, especially when dementia is involved, which can turn the simplest of everyday activities into a Sisyphus’s curse. Frustration is bad enough for a caregiver to experience, but it can be even worse if they take it out on the person with dementia, either verbally or physically. Frustration often arises from the feeling of powerlessness to change a given situation, for instance the behavior of the person with dementia. However, you can learn to recognize the signs and negative patterns of frustration and change how you react to them.

Signs of frustration

·         Shortness of breath.

·         A knot in the throat.

·         Abdominal cramps.

·         Chest pain.

·         Headache.

·         Compulsive eating.

·         Alcohol abuse.

·         Smoking.

·         Impatience.

 Even though frustration is an emotional response, the signs are very physical. Therefore, it is important to calm yourself down physically before anything else. Try the following tips to achieve a state of serenity now:

·         Count to ten.

·         Take a few deep breaths.

·         Take a short walk.

·         Go to a different room to regroup your thoughts.

·         Call a friend.

·         Pray.

·         Meditate.

·         Sing.

·         Listen to music.

·         Take a bath.

Some of these involve taking leave of the person with dementia if only for a while, which should be done only if it’s safe or if there is someone that can momentarily relieve you of your duty.

Once you have calmed yourself down physically, you can proceed to address the negative thought patterns that contribute to frustration and counter them with a more positive response.

Negative thoughts

Positive responses

Taking one negative aspect and multiplying it.

Remember that everything that can go wrong does not necessarily go wrong. Bad things are bound to happen but they don’t happen all of the time.

Focusing on the bad things while neglecting the good.

While there is always room for improvement, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, and the best you can is still pretty damn good.

Arriving at conclusions much too quickly before all the facts are in, for example assuming to know what someone else is thinking about you, or failing to a try a new approach because you’re certain it will end badly.

Caregivers are usually more aware of their shortcomings than most people, so it is rather curious how sometimes they believe they can read minds or see the future. Keep in mind that a caregiver is neither a mindreader nor a clairvoyant.

Labeling yourself, for instance as lazy is you put off doing a certain chore.

Caregivers work very hard and they need a rest now and then; that does not make them lazy.

Blaming yourself for something that you cannot control.

Dementia is a complex condition that may require professional care in a healthcare setting. In other words, more than a caregiver can provide for at home, but this is not your fault; it’s just the way it crumbles – cookiewise, that is.


The help question: Yes or No?

Frustration frequently stems from the fact that you cannot do everything, especially not at once. Thus, asking for and accepting help from others is essential when it comes to relieving caregiver stress. Make sure, though, to accept help when it’s offered and not wait until it’s needed. Don’t be afraid to take someone up on their offer of help. You can also seek for outside help in the form of a counselor, support group, or a fellow caregiver who is going or has gone through a similar situation. Additionally, you can help yourself by saying no to friends, relatives, and even bosses if they attempt – whether consciously or not – to push you well beyond your limits.

Speaking of helping yourself, here are a couple of things you can do by and for yourself to stave off frustration:

·         Make time for resting, going out, socializing, tending to a hobby, and generally having fun and enjoying yourself. You can do this without feeling guilty by resorting to respite care.

·         Take care of yourself, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and keep your doctor’s appointments.


Related Read:

Respite Care 101: Care for Caregivers