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, primarily because until you’ve been through a situation, you don’t know what to ask. So I usually try to anticipate some of those questions ahead of time and answer them.
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. In today’s post, I’m continuing an interview with a caregiver whose wife was diagnosed with dementia, about what he found to make his journey a bit easier.
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 3, we discussed the importance of the caregiver joining support groups: Ask Dr. B: Lessons from a Dementia Caregiver Part 3
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: “As a caregiver trying to deal with someone with dementia, is there anything you have found in the day to day that has helped to make this journey any easier?”
Caregiver: “Yes. We were very fortunate in that early on we found a woman who would come in two or three times a week for a couple of hours each time to be with my wife to give me respite care.
“She was marvelous because despite my wife’s very limited vocabulary, this woman could communicate with her in her limited language. And this woman was a piano teacher, and my wife loved to play the piano. This woman enjoyed having my wife play the piano, and she would help her if she got stuck and would even introduce her to some new music, which she was amazingly able to pick up. In her mind she still had memory of some of the very old hymns. So when this woman would mention the hymns or play a small portion of them, my wife could still pick them up and play them, which was extremely helpful.”
DrB: “So a form of respite care for a couple of hours a week?”
Caregiver: “Yes, and that was very helpful to me to give me a couple hours to go to a caregivers support group or go to the gym to do my exercises or do some uninterrupted computer work. That was very helpful.”
DrB: “So that was helpful to you to even just give you a couple of hours of a mental break?”
Caregiver: “Yes. And the other thing that was helpful that was very difficult was finding someone who could come in to help her shower, shampoo her hair, brush her teeth, and change her clothes. That was very difficult to find. After quite some time of looking and trial and error with professional healthcare providers, we finally found one that could manage it.
“It was difficult because my wife was even sometimes combative. That’s a difficult thing for a lot of the dementia patients to accept help with showering or bathing and I could not do it. So having help was crucial.”
DrB: “So respite care was care for her but it provided you with some respite.”
Caregiver: “Oh yes.”
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. Respite care is one of the things that can be helpful to you as a caregiver, trying to care for someone, a loved one with dementia.
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/.