Family members, spouse, and friends (caregivers) are extremely important in the proper management of people with dementia. The quality of life of the caregiver, to a large extent, determines the quality of life of the person.
Caregiver emotions take a roller-coaster ride during the illness and it is important that they are aware of this, so that they can manage their own emotions. One of the best ways to cope with this illness is for caregivers to learn as much as possible about the illness.
Caregivers must be able to anticipate what is going to happen next. They should talk to other people about the illness and ensure that their support structures are present and are strong. Support groups are extremely important and provide an opportunity to ventilate feelings and to meet other people similarly affected.
Caregivers must take time out for relaxation and to improve their own mental health. They should not feel guilty about this and must always remember that a healthy caregiver is a better caregiver.
The management of emotional changes and behavioural difficulties can present a problem. Caregivers should familiarise themselves with the strategies that are available. In many instances it may be better to manage these difficulties without the help of medication. Medication can cause sedation that may in turn have an adverse effect on memory functioning.
Written by Dr Frans Hugo, MBChB, M.Med Psychiatry and Dr L. Van Wyk, MBChB, M. Med (Psych) from the Panorama Memory Clinic.
Drawing up and signing a will
For more information visit:
Dementia SA: http://www.dementiasa.org/ or Alzheimer’s South Africa: http://www.alzheimers.org.za/