Looking after yourself

Overview

This booklet is for you if you care for someone with dementia. It has been produced with the help and support of many carers across Scotland.

Caring for someone with dementia can be a very intensive, challenging, rewarding and at times stressful experience. Carers of people with dementia often describe the joys as well as the tribulations of caring for a relative or friend with dementia. Whilst grieving for the losses that dementia inevitably brings, carers also often find a strong appreciation of the person and of the familiar activities, memories and social life that they are still able to enjoy together.

However, caring for someone with dementia is even more complex and demanding than caring for someone with physical disabilities. One study found that compared to non-caregivers, carers for people with dementia visited their GPs 50% more and took up to 86% more prescribed medications.

Carers face very different caring challenges at each stage of the illness. Adjusting to the diagnosis and coping with the changes the illness will bring can cause a great deal of stress, but if you are well prepared and know what you may need to provide in the way of care it can help a great deal. Having a good network of family and friends who know how they can help you is also very important.

This booklet will provide guidelines which will help you cope with your caring role, and help you understand why it is so important that you look after yourself. When you are caring for someone with dementia it is often very difficult to see why and how you could possibly take any time out for yourself.

It is very hard to accept advice about how to look after myself - even though I know it is important, it is often impossible to see a way to make any changes.

Each person is different and each caring situation is unique. Asking for help and finding out what suits you and the person you care for can be very difficult, but there are many ways you can make life easier for both you and the person you care for. Stress affects your health, and much of the information in this booklet explores ways of reducing stress.

If there is any information you need regarding dementia and your caring role please contact the 24 hour freephone Dementia Helpline 0808 808 3000 for advice, information and support.

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