Who decides who cares for someone with dementia?
Deciding who should care for a loved one with dementia is a very personal choice – and only you can make it. However, we can help by giving you all the essential information you need to consider
Could this be you?
Many people find they become a ‘carer’ for someone with dementia without ever having made a conscious decision. After all, if you’ve been married for decades you might feel it is a duty not a choice.
– You cannot do everything on your own, especially as the illness progresses.
– There’s no shame in admitting you’re finding it too difficult or need more help.
– Everyone is different and every dementia journey is different – normal rules don’t apply.
Whatever your situation, here’s how to make sure the best people are doing the best job they can for your loved one.
Why families make great carers
It makes sense practically
If you already share a home, you may find that with a few adjustments to rooms and day to day life you can both continue living well for quite some time.
You know them best
If you’ve lived with someone for decades you will know them inside out, and even if their memory is deteriorating they will still trust you and feel safer with you than with someone they hardly know.
It’s what they want
If your loved one has made it clear that they want to stay at home with their family, deciding to go against their wishes can be incredibly difficult because it feels so disloyal.
Golden rule: Just say ‘yes’
Take advantage of any support you can get from other family, friends or neighbours. If they offer it, always accept it.
Why professionals make great carers
They understand the illness
When you’re emotionally involved it can be harder to separate the illness (and how it might effect their behaviour) from the person you love. However, a professional carer will not be hurt or offended by anything your loved one might say or do, and should have the skills to deal calmly and kindly with situations you may have found difficult.
It’s easier on your relationship
Caring for someone you love might bring an enormous sense of satisfaction, however becoming the person who ‘does everything’ for them can impact greatly on your relationship. Whilst a carer might consider daily tasks such as bathing and dressing simply part of their job, for you they carry far more meaning and emotion.
It’s what you might need
Being a full time carer to a loved one can be physically and emotionally draining. If you’re struggling, there’s no shame in admitting you need professional help. It’s far better to be honest than to struggle on in silence and risk both of your health.
Golden rule: Ask yourself: Would I be happy for this carer to look after me if I had dementia?
If the answer is yes, you’ve followed up on their references and they’ve had a DBS check (formally called a Criminal Records Bureau check), then they’re probably good enough.
Two facts worth knowing
– Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the UK economy £11 billion a year.
– 80 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.
Good to know
You can take it slowly
Many family members find they can comfortably care for a loved one with dementia at the beginning of their journey but that greater levels of support (including professional) are needed as the illness progresses. This gradual shift from family care to professional care is sometimes described by experts as ‘phased transition.’
You can change your mind
The decision you make now isn’t set in stone. It can be reviewed or reversed as the illness progresses or if your own personal circumstances change.
You aren’t alone
This is a hard decision which many people struggle to make. You might never feel completely happy with what you decide, but you can only do your best and remember that thousands of other people are doing exactly the same. Find out how other carers came to their decision by visiting our Dementia Support Group.