How do I cope with the challenges of being a carer?

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National Dementia Helpline advisors answer your questions

Family members and friends often find themselves in the role of a carer when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia.

While caring for your loved one can be rewarding, it can also have its tougher days.

The National Dementia Helpline (1800 100 500) is there for you on those tougher days.

Jennifer and Nick are two of the friendly voices you might speak to when calling the Helpline.

Here they provide advice on how to navigate some of the challenges that can come with being a carer.

I’m a carer and people tell me I need to take time out to look after myself. How do I do that?

Jennifer: You may not be able to go away for two weeks and take a complete break but there are small, practical things you can do each day.

Even just making yourself a cup of tea and finding a quiet spot to sit for 10 minutes, popping on some music or reading a chapter of a book.

It’s so important that you look after yourself so that you don’t burn out and that you are able to be your best self for not only you but the person you’re caring for.

Sometimes I feel angry, frustrated or overwhelmed. Is this normal?

Nick: If you are caring for someone with dementia and you are getting angry, frustrated, upset or overwhelmed then you are normal.

If you’re sick of repeating all the things you’re saying, and it is really starting to grate on you and overwhelm you, it’s important to know that it’s a normal reaction.

You’re one of the many people that we speak to every day who says the same thing.

It is frustrating, but there are ways to deal with it.

For example, you may become frustrated with a loved who is saying things that aren’t true.

If someone says: ‘The police were here today’, a really good way to deal with that is to repeat back to them: ‘Oh, the police were here today?’.

The thing to remember for a person who’s living with dementia and who is having these ideas, is that this is the absolute truth for them. That is the reality for them.

It validates them. It shows that you’ve listened to them.

They feel heard and hopefully you feel less frustrated.

If you are feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed I would encourage you to call Dementia Australia on 1800 100 500 as we can give you some strategies that will definitely help. 

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