At The Window Wit Dementia_S2E27
Laura Banner

Laura Banner

Family Nurse Practitioner, Dementia Trainer & Advocate,
Keynote Speaker (Available for speaking engagements on Dementia)

What it means to be a Dementia Caregiver

Today’s topic is what does it really means to be a caregiver of someone with dementia. There’s certainly no job description because the caretaker that I’m talking about is not the kind that you apply for. It’s not the kind that you get paid for. It’s the kind that you volunteer for because you love someone who has memory impairment. So what does it really mean to be a caregiver of someone with dementia? Well, let me tell you what I think it means. It means that you press pause on your own life. You’re putting on hold all your dreams, your adventures, your ambition, and your aspiration. You are always on call day, night, Monday through Friday, weekends, holidays, whenever, 24 seven. You are on. It means that you may, in fact, probably will, at some point during the journey, feel isolated, overwhelmed and you probably will question many things that you previously knew to be true, including the strength of relationships.

It’s certainly not an easy job to take on. But people do it every day. And thank God they do. Many of you know that I chair a support group. We’ve been meeting for just over four years. And this topic actually just recently came up in one of our meetings. What I want to tell you is if you feel disappointed, and worn out, and even angry, you are completely normal. Too often, what I see is the guilt, the guilt that caregivers hold, because they don’t feel that it’s their place to complain to vocalize that they are tired, and they are frustrated and that sometimes they just wish it would all go away, but yet they don’t go away because caregivers you all are special people, you keep going back for more. Even knowing that it’s very likely that with each successive day, it will become more difficult. That’s why I say you’re special because you do it out of love. What a generous gift you all give to those that you care for. You are their person; you are what makes each day possible for them. You lighten their load; you take away the barriers that you can, you reassure them and comfort them. And you do an incredible job making the world as normal for them as you possibly can, without showing the signs of what’s going on inside of you.

I know it’s hard sometimes to put aside all the unpleasantness, but it’s important that you remember, and don’t lose sight of the reason that you took on this job in the first place. It’s because you care, because you have this ability to love unconditionally. You signed up for the most difficult battle of your life, both physically and emotionally. Maybe you didn’t know all that was going to be involved when you first signed on, but you didn’t walk away; you’re committed. You’re there until your loved one’s last breath. You won’t abandon them. Not the way even their mind has; none of us ever would want someone to go through what your loved one is going through. And unfortunately, as of right now, we can’t stop that from happening until there’s a cure. But you had a choice, your loved one didn’t, but you did. And you took it on you decided to be there to make a difference to put all those things on hold that I previously mentioned how amazing are you. You truly are the unsung hero. You’re not looking for things, and good thing because you often don’t get it. But you’re there. You alone make the most profound difference in your loved one’s life. Maybe it’s a spouse or sibling or maybe even a parent. But regardless of the relationship that you have with your loved one. This is not how it began, I’m sure. Who could have imagined that someone’s mind could betray themself? And that they could be so vulnerable. It’s almost too much to think about. 

But, I want this podcast to be about you. Not about your loved one. I want you to know that you’re not alone. And that if you need help. All you need to do is pick up the phone. If you don’t feel that you have a friend or family member that you can reach out to, you can always call 911. Another fantastic resource that’s probably underutilized is the Alzheimer’s Association. Did you know that they have a hotline? That’s manned by trained professionals, counselors, 24 seven. Every single day of the year. Because we know most things that go wrong, don’t go round Monday through Friday, nine to five. It’s always in the middle of the night or on the weekend, or even during a holiday. But they’re always there for you. Because sometimes you need to throw out the lifeline. You need someone to help keep you afloat; you’re human. It’s natural. You’re exhausted. And you are doing the most amazing job. And I’m so sorry that the world doesn’t focus as much attention as they should on the caregiver. Because you need it and you deserve it. What you’re doing is so special. And it’s a gift. It’s a gift that you are giving your loved one. And we should all be so blessed to have someone in our moment of need. And I just want to take this moment and say thank you. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for your generous heart, your sleepless nights, your willingness to be isolated. Thank you for everything. Thank you for everything you’ve given up. And thank you for caring. Anyway, I just thought that needed to be said. Just remember, we’re all in this together, even though you feel like you’re all alone. Anyway, I hope you feel free to reach out to me at any point if someone needs something. If you have a question or a topic. I have a few topics that people have been submitting, and I plan to get to those, so thank you for that. Please follow me on Instagram. And I hope if you haven’t already, please check out my website, we’ve got a lot of things coming up. We actually have two books that are in the process of being published right now. So, go ahead, check back frequently. I cannot wait for you to read them and give me some feedback. I’m very excited about them and so proud. Anyway, If you haven’t already please subscribe to my podcast. I release new episodes every Tuesday. Go ahead and give me a review also. Thanks so much. Have a great day. And again, Thank you!

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