I'm caregiver to my Dad who has dementia. How do I care for myself?

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Hi, My name is Mary L. My dad has been having a lot of bad days and i am trying to learn how to stay calm when he get's mad at the world. Everyday he want's to leave and we are we just have to find a place. I really need to get some answer to help me cope

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My mother also has dementia and has been living with me for 8 years, I work full time during the day and it was not safe for her, so she is in the hospital now, waiting to get into a nursing home, it is not easy, I cry every day, and every time I go there, I never know what to expect, I see her getting progressively worse every day, and that is not easy to deal with.
My mom was sad all the time and always felt like she was being a burden to me, when she would remember, now the hospital has her on a low dose of anti depressants, and she is a totally different person. But she is refusing to take some of her meds, and she only wants me to give them to her, it is so hard not to get angry, I know its not her fault, I don't want to argue with her, but at the same time I want her to take her medication so it will help her.
Dementia is a horrible disease, I too wish nobody would have to go through this.
Just hang in there, I myself am finding this support group so helpful, whenever I am having a hard time, I just come on here, and I feel so much better just knowing that I am not alone!!
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maryll, the thing that helps me the most is getting away from it for a few hours and talking to people about normal things. When you're caring for someone with dementia, it can soon become your whole life. You live life for them and yourself, and their life takes 90% of your time. Being around and enjoying other people helps us to recharge our drained batteries. A few hours away can work wonders.

I think you were saying that you are looking for a place for him? I hope you are able to find something he likes soon. Often people with dementia behave better around other people than they do around family. He may have trouble settling in, but give him a while to adjust if you know the facility is a good fit for him.

I wish there was no such thing as dementia. There is no way to really do things right -- at least it feels that way. A lot of the time we have to do what works at the moment. We have to pull back emotionally or anger can take over. This can be difficult to do at times, but we have to forgive ourselves.

I guess the best way to care for ourselves is the same way we would under normal circumstances. Eat right, exercise, enjoy life. One thing I find myself singing a lot is "Don't worry. Be happy."
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I live in Maryland Frederick County i never realized what i was taking on when i moved back to care for my dad who has dementia. It has been an up hill battle for me as his caregiver. There are days when i don't know what to do when he is having his tantrums, right now i am just letting him rant and rave and wait until he cools down
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Hi Mary,
I am GNP and dementia specialist. I facilitate support groups for caregivers in New Jersey.
I would be glad to help you with your questions
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my poor mom can barely get out the door to get the paper when my dad apparently starts banging on things with his cane or yelling for her. he quit taking his meds (that even after 5 days my mom noticed a small difference) but my dad said it felt like h*ll (which we never got a true answer as to what was wrong), but the voodoo meds was not to be taken again. so not sure how going to explain to the doctor about that. But when mom gets to go out for hair salon, we arrange for someone to come stay with dad while she is gone.
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For your wellfare, I recommend seeking respite care (family, friends, adult day care, in-home provider, Deparment of Aging and Disability). It is so easy to get lost in the day-to-day activities of taking care of a loved one....but you can't lose yourself. You must 1st take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your father. Im telling you that you DESERVE to be happy and have peace of mind.
Taking care of a loved one with Dementia doesn't come with an instruction manual, or warning label. Taking care of a loved one with Dementia is FAR from easy, but there is support out there. If you can afford it, hire a elder care sitter (which usually can be found through Nanny Care Provider) , or seek out a Personal Care Home (for a day or weekend) to give you a respite care break. If money is limited, seek out assistance through your state's Department of Aging and Disability, or look into your neighborhood's adult day care.
Seek medical advice concerning his anxiety/ behavior. A close relationship with doctor's will be instrumental in dealing with your father's condition as it changes.
My mom would try to get out of the house/wander at night, too, and was very resistant to change (the change going on with her mentally/physically + the change of having to live with me).
In taking on the role as primary care provider, I had to make some big changes. First, I had to remember that although she had moments of clarity, she was not always rational, thus I had to deal with her where she was. I am slowly realizing that I don't have to be right all the time; this lowered my stress level tremendously. Second, I was had to baby-proof my home. I put away all sharp objects, or anything my mother could possibly harm herself (or someone else) with. I child proofed my oven by removing the knobs at night. I installed double-sided deadbolt locks on all doors leading out of the house. I installed/ placed a magnetic door chime above her door which would ring whenever she opened her bedroom at night. I also purchased a baby monitor for her room; now I can hear her stirring in her room at night.
Hope some of these suggestions help you.....
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How far advanced is his illness?
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The best way in these cases is to get medical advice and treatment for the mental issues such as depression or anxiety medication. My mother seemed all eager to move to an assisted living, happy and calm, and seemed to understand the reasons and was compliant in every way. Once there, her attitude changed completely. She was negative, abusive, despised everything and everyone. She had been taking depression medication for years but somehow that wasn't working anymore, so once a psychologist saw her, he prescribed a change of meds. Once the process of elimination of the old meds and adjustment of the new ones was completed, she was a new person. Nice, agreeable and positive.
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You can call "Adult Protective Services" in your area or "Council On Aging" in your county. They are there to help you.
I will not give any medical advice but to go to your primary care physician.
We all live moment by moment....
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There is medication that the Dr can order for your dad that helps with his out bursts and temper. If someone is with him full time in the house, you might want to look into the combination key pads that only you or whomever is there can open. They use those on the doors at the facility my mother in law was in. Homes that deal with dementia patients are very, very expensive but if he has the money and you are his POA then no problem, otherwise try to get aides to come in several times a week for 4 hour shifts so you can get out and away. "sun downer's" is a huge problem but again the Dr can give you meds to help that. If he won't take the meds disquise them in his food or drink.
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