Caring for a family member with dementia
• Is challenging: carers manage difficult changes in their loved ones’ behaviour and personality, including aggression in
some cases. Caring full-time can leave family members feeling socially isolated and having to meet hidden costs.
• Is rewarding: caring is often a very rewarding experience that can strengthen family bonds through the close and intimate
• Can change family relationships: changes in behaviour and personality can cause family carers to treat their loved
one in a different, more childlike way. Carers’ relationships with siblings can also become strained as the amount of care
• Impacts psychological and physical health: the negative health consequences of looking after a family member
with dementia are well documented
Impact of dementia on the family members can be broadly summarised under categories viz., financial and psychological.
- Financial implications: Financial implication of taking care of a PwD varies from living settings and interest taken by the family members. Usually care takers are dispersed and no hired persons are engaged to take care of PwD. In rural settings, PwD move about freely an
d eat what is eaten by everybody, cost implications are a little less. Many seek health care from Government establishment for treating any ailment that the PwD suffers. Longevity of PwD is less in rural areas and few will reach C7 stage. They succumb to collateral damages. In Urban settings, usually help of a nurse is obtained to take care of PwD.
2. Psychological implications: A chronically sick man at home can be psychologically very disturbing. Some of the most common feelings families and caregivers experience are guilt, grief and loss, and anger.
- Guilt: It is quite common to feel guilty—guilty for the way the person with dementia was treated in the past, guilty at feeling embarrassed by their odd behaviour, guilty for lost tempers or guilty for not wanting the responsibility of caring for a person with dementia. Even to admit a PwD in a care home or hospital many family members feel guilty.
- Grief and loss: Grief is a response to loss. If someone close develops dementia, family members are faced with the loss of the person that they used to know and the loss of a relationship. People caring for partners may experience grief at the loss of the future that they had planned to share together.
- Anger: It is natural to feel frustrated and angry—angry at having to be a caregiver, angry with others who do not seem to be helping out, angry at the person with dementia for her difficult behaviours and angry at support services. Sometimes caregivers may even feel like shaking, pushing or hitting the person with dementia. Feelings of distress, frustration, guilt, exhaustion and annoyance are quite normal.
- Impact on children and teens: With so much focus on the person who has dementia, sometimes younger family members don’t get the attention they need, or the illness is not explained in a way they can understand. Children often experience a wide range of emotions when a parent or grandparent has Dementia. Younger children may be fearful that they will get the disease or that they did something to cause it. Teenagers may become resentful if they must take on more responsibilities or feel embarrassed that their parent or grandparent is “different.” College-bound children may be reluctant to leave home.