Looking After Dementia Patients Can Take A Toll On Caregivers

10 March 2017, 4:25 am EST By Amy Gordon Tech Times
Dementia leaves emotional and physical distress in its wake. However, not just the patients, but also the caregivers are at a risk due to the continued emotional stress and may suffer a setback financially, emotionally and physically.  ( Tim & Selena Middleton | Flickr )

Dementia patients are not the only ones who deal with emotional stress as looking after them can also take its toll on the caregivers physically, mentally and financially.

Sue Willms is a caregiver to her husband Wally who suffers from a common form of dementia, which is known as Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).

Speaking about her experience while taking care of her husband, she revealed her stressful condition and the present scenario at her abode in an interview, which was published in the Daily Nonpareil.

What Is Dementia?

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defined dementia as a major neuro cognitive disorder.

It is defined as a chronic disorder of mental processes that is caused by head or brain disease or any kind of injury and is majorly marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

How Dementia Affects Caregivers

LBD is the sole reason why Willms has to put in a lot of labor to take care of her husband. At the age of 67, her husband was first diagnosed with the frightening disease.

At first he lost his ability to perform simple daily chores. Gradually it started hampering his procedural memory, the part of the brain which is involved in performing various activities like swimming, driving and cycling.

Sue also hinted upon the fact that he even faced hallucinations which is one of the main symptoms of LBD. There were times when he hardly remembered matters regarding his family and his personal life.

This has caused a lot of emotional turmoil in the caregivers' life. She felt isolated and lonely. Even though she got support from her family and community, Willms could feel the effects of the continuous stress she was under. Doing the work of a caregiver started becoming too hard for her to cope up with.

In such cases, the caregivers do not suffer any less than the patient with dementia. Some would even go to the extent of saying that the caregivers suffer more emotionally.

According to the data released by the Alzheimer's Association in the Alzheimer's Disease Facts And Figures, 35 percent of caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or any other form of dementia suffer from an array of health issues themselves.

It also states that there are more than 15 million U.S. citizens who offer unpaid care for people suffering with dementia or Alzheimer's.

The prospect of someone close to you, not being able to recognize you and not being able to perform simple tasks, is not an enticing thought. Coping up with such a reality may be even harder and a caregiver should be mindful of their own health as well.

Photo: Tim & Selena Middleton | Flickr

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