I am caring for a person with dementia and his wife, the primary caregiver, is depressed. How can I help her?

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How do I, or should I somehow let the family know about how mom is feeling and how overwhelmed she feels? She feels depressed and I need to help her but I am not sure how to.

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What is your professional relationship? Do you work for an Agency or Private Pay? If through an Agency let them know and they should contact the family. If Private Pay who pays you? If one of the children that is who I would contact.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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Some really good advice here on practical steps that can be helpful and supportive.

Is Wife under a doctor's care for depression? Has she been diagnosed? None of the suggestions people have offered would be harmful -- going to a support meeting can indeed provide suport -- but also realize that true clinical depression is a serious illness and usually takes more than DIY efforts to manage. If she is now getting treatment, perhaps it needs to be adjusted. If she has never been diagnosed or treated it might be time for that. Her family should know about your observations.

There is another possibility here. She may be experiencing anticipatory mourning. When your spouse has dementia you watch them leave you bit by bit. Memory by memory. It is natural to feel grief. And if people are trying to cheer you up all the time without acknowledging your legitimate feelings, that can just add to the stress. (I speak from experience.) This is another reason meeting with other caregivers of persons with dementia is supportive. They get it. Few others do.

You are kind to be concerned. Yes, share your observations with her family.
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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How should you let the family know? I would start with the easiest family member, and keep it brief. ‘I am getting concerned about (Mom), too. What do you want me to do? Talk to you about it, or do you want to call a family meeting? I think I may be seeing aspects that don’t crop up for you.’ You don’t want to take over, or to give that impression. It’s not the best way to go, for anyone involved.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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Wow, reading some of the answers here, it's interesting the conclusions people jumped to as far as who you are and your role! Sounds to me like you might be a professional caregiver, who also recognizes the needs of the family...you must be a blessing! So here's the reality from my perspective...I'm sure your realize caregiving for someone with dementia can be depressing, if not exhausting. And it results in some caregivers feeling alone and having a pretty isolated existence. Their depressed mood and being overwhelmed doesn't exactly make them a magnet for friends or a joy to be with...but that is what GOOD friends are for...in good times and in bad. Also, some people either because of genetics or life experiences are depressed and may have a life time history of it. You can't change that...but no matter what, the very fact that YOU care is probably making a difference even if you don't realize it. Your relationship is rather private/protected UNLESS family is present at the same time, and then you might be able to slip in "your mom seems kind of down; I know she had plenty of reason, I just wish there was something I/we could do to help. Is she computer literate? There are support groups from the Alzheimer's Assn on line...and in person as well if she can get to one...they are lucky to have you:-)
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Reply to robinr
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Definitely get the family involved. They should always know how things are going and if they just don't care, then possibly find out if you can, if she was once involved in her Church or is there someone she once had as a friend that you can contact and have that person visit. If you are hired as a caregiver through a company, then discuss that with them and they could be helpful.
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Reply to tperri123
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A good support team is a must, Just talking was a great relive. visiets from friends and relatives who just sit with her for a while is a great show of support . Missing  fameliey  was very stressful .
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Reply to Gtmerkley
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When an aging couple experiences a serious decline of one of the partners, the needs of the other one is often overlooked. Often, they are overwhelmed, don't eat well, don't sleep well, and become isolated. It is totally human to feel depressed in this situation. Her needs must be considered. I say, contact the family, because she could benefit from their support. Little things can make the difference. Regular phone visits centered on her can help her feel supported and inform the family of her state of mind. She needs to have socialization, sunshine, and to learn coping mechanisms to think forward. Plus, feeling useful in another way can give her purpose. Maybe, she could meet regularly with a social/philanthropic group whose mission may give shape to each day. She may also need a medical evaluation to ensure that her depression isn't a sign of something more.
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Reply to lynina2
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More than anything find a weekly support group. Spilling your guts to a group of people going thru same & understand where she is. Call alz assoc. They have 24/7 hot line. One person said they talked at least an hr w her. They understand. Also can give where there are support grps. Go at least 3 times before judging. Speaking from experience. We even go to lunch after.
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Reply to mlface
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You sound like a professional caregiver to me - I had a friend who had an insurance policy that provided him with a 24/7 caregiver. Is this also what you are doing?

Absolutely tell the family of the wife/mother's needs. You are hired to care for the husband, so I am guessing you cannot leave him alone. Call the family and tell them that someone needs to come care for the mother. At the least she needs to be professionally evaluated by a physician. Being evaluated is Step One. Then, if needed, the physician can either prescribe something for depression or he can submit the forms for her to be assisted too.

Good luck hon, it's not easy being a caregiver.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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Does she attend support meetings at all? A community of others in similar situations can be helpful for all members. If she is craft oriented, a group of people who knit (for example) can be a source of friendly interaction. Does the family visit the couple? Does she have transportation or drive herself? And yes, the family should know about their mother's depression. As should her doctor. There is help for her and your thoughtful concern for her will help her get it.
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Reply to GenKazdin
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