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Tell others how you want to be supported

2.13 Tell others how you want to be supported

Caring for a person with dementia takes time and energy. As a carer, you will need support yourself

As a carer you will be supporting the person you love to live a full and satisfying life. You’ll both be coping with a whole range of emotional and practical issues along with the usual business of living.

Many family members and friends are well intentioned, but don’t know how to provide support that is helpful. Some family can be too intrusive, others hang back and wait to be asked as they don’t want to ‘take over’. Simply asking for support is the best way to get support you need or want. Be ready with suggestions when someone offers assistance as well.

  • Beverly found she was phoning around to give her large family updates following every doctor’s visit with her sister. Looking after her frail mother and her sister and working was too much to spend her precious time repeating the same story to numerous concerned family members. No one had thought to offer to be the family spokesperson. As soon as Beverly asked, one of her siblings took over this role.
  • Andre was getting anxious each time Gerda left him at home alone; she received multiple phone calls every time she went out. A retired neighbour had previously offered assistance. Gerda asked about coming over to play cards with Andre. He was happy to oblige, which gave Gerda time for shopping or a visit to the hairdresser without interruptions.

It can be helpful to think through things that give you pleasure or recharge your batteries. Write them down and work on how you can continue to do those things. Sue liked time at home alone. She was able to ask her son to take her husband out to the hardware store on a regular basis, which they both enjoyed. Sue was able to have the quiet time alone she craved.

Some carers told us that they find it very difficult to ask for help. It is not ‘giving up’ or shirking your responsibilities, it is looking after yourself which is critically important to being able to support someone over the long-term.

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What works for you

  • Write down things that give you pleasure or recharge your batteries. Work on how you can continue to do those things.
  • Think about whom you can ask for help to allow you some time to yourself.