As shown last week, the job itself can involve many aspects, each of which can be challenging physically, mentally and/or emotionally. But other challenges that make a care partner's already difficult job even more difficult include elevated sense of burden and reactions due to changes in their relationship with their loved one that result in stress-related:
- Depression, due to feelings of loss, ineffectiveness, frustration, tiredness, etc.
- Higher risk of heart disease and headaches, due to increased fight and flight hormones.
- Digestive problems, due to stress induced decrease in digestive functioning.
- Disturbed sleep, due to their loved one's interruptive sleep behaviors.
- Increased cortisol secretion, a stress-related hormone.
- Abnormal glucose regulation, caused by hormones that add energy for a short term flight/fight reflex but tax a body's insulin production when stress is chronic.
- Inflammation, a normal response to foreign bodies, that becomes harmful when stress is chronic.
- Weakened immune system, when a normal decreased immune response is extended by chronic stress.
- Too overwhelmed. Seeking help may seem like just one more job in an already too full workload.
- Too depressed. Depression can take away a person's ability to initiate...or in this Increased stress reactions associated with altered relationship dynamics, elevated sense of burden and depression
- Too frustrated. Frustration is a negative emotion that motivates action but that action is seldom positive or helpful. More likely it instigates anger which only makes the situation worse.
- Too isolated. It is essential to have open discussions to maintain well-being but dementia care can be quite isolating, as friends fall away and the job becomes to demanding to allow outside interests.
- The opportunity to give back. Giving is a positive feeling that always helps.
- Improved relationships. As care partner and loved one learn to work closely together, a new and sometimes, better relationship can appear. This relationship will change as the disease degenerates however.
- Feeling good about the quality of care. Most care partners know that they can provide better, more individualized, care for their loved one than a care facility can.
- Serving as a role model for others. This is most likely to happen in a support group and is one of its important values.
- Increased self-esteem, a normal result of feeling useful and needed.
- An enhanced sense of purpose. Care partnering is a demanding job and expending the effort to do it well feels good...as long as it doesn't get so difficult that it becomes burdensome.
- Feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. These can vary greatly, from the pleasure of a job well done to seeing the contentment of one's loved one to being more appreciated of personal time when it occurs.
For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Responsive Dementia Care: Fewer Behaviors Fewer Drugs
Lewy Body Dementia: A Manual for Staff
Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.