In my private practice, I evaluate and treat patients with a variety of conditions ranging from ADHD to depression to dementia, and I find that there are so many un-asked questions, but frequently as doctors, we don’t know what questions you have. Today we have the fortune of talking to an individual who has walked the journey of being a caregiver for a loved one who has been diagnosed with Dementia. Today we’re going to answer some of the questions that you may have about dementia.
Dementia is a cruel disease that doesn’t just impact the one diagnosed—it impacts the whole family. When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, caregivers are often filled with fear, concern, and dread. Caregivers often don’t know what questions to ask because the experience is so new. In today’s post, I’m continuing an interview with a caregiver whose wife was diagnosed with dementia, about the necessity of obtaining additional support.
In part 1 of this 5 part series, we discussed the signs and symptoms that led up to a medical diagnosis for dementia: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 1
In part 2, we discussed the most difficult aspect of the caregiver’s experience dealing with his wife’s dementia and his advice for others in the early stages: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 2
In part 4, we discussed the importance of the dementia patient receiving respite care as well as the caregiver and a caregiver support group to prevent burnout: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 4
In part 5, the caregiver and I discussed the power of redirection for the dementia patient as well as the frustration of dealing with a loved one’s memory loss: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 5
DrB: “Tell me if you will, as a caregiver who has had to walk this valley, this journey of caring for someone with dementia, what advice would you have for someone who is just now starting their journey?”
Caregiver: “The most helpful thing for me was to join a support group for dementia patients and families. It’s a small group of 8-12 people that meets periodically, all of whom have spouses who have a form of dementia. The meetings are sharing their experiences, their feelings, a lot of laughter, and frequently tears. But you come away with the feeling that you are not alone.
“I think that that is perhaps the most important thing to realize that as you go through this, you tend to become rather isolated because your friends find that you as a couple are in a different situation. Many times they don’t continue the same type of relationship with you that you had before and so you can very easily become isolated.
“I have found now that some of my closest friends come from this group of caregivers.”
DrB: “Because they can relate.”
DrB: “So for someone just starting this journey, it might be a frightening consideration—the thought of joining a support group for caregivers of loved ones with dementia—but perhaps one of the most helpful things they can do.”
Caregiver: “Yes. When a new member comes into the group, you can sense they are not sure if they should be there or not, because it’s an admission that something is changing in their life.”
DrB: “Yes. Do you think denial plays a role in the wondering if they belong?”
Caregiver: “It could be denial. It could be a hope that this is not permanent. “
Caregiver: “It could be fear. It could be all of those things.”
DrB: “But if they come back?”
Caregiver: “Usually if they come back they find very quickly that these are other people who have gone through exactly the same thing as they are.”
DrB: “So then there is a camaraderie there.”
Caregiver: “There most definitely is, yes.”
DrB: “Thank you for sharing from your experience. I’m sure your experiences will give others the sense that you have been there and perhaps lend them some courage.”
Let me encourage you today that if you are in the early stages of finding out that a loved one has dementia, do what you can to educate yourself and get more information, and get the support you need to help you weather this journey.
For more information on how to help your loved one with dementia and to get additional tips, go to my website, http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
Because of Him,
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.