I am so often surprised when working with a family who is caring for an individual who has a diagnosis of dementia. When I ask them if they have read “The 36 Hour Day” or other great books that have been written about careing for a person who has dementia they often say “NO”. When I worked as a home health medical social worker I actually carried copies of that book with me, and multiple copies of specific chapters of that book – Chapter 3 “Characteristice Problems of Dementia”, and Chapter 5 “Problems Arising in Daily Care” – usually were so effective in relieving stress that the family went out and bought the book!
Knowing WHY and then HOW to address a problem greatly relieves the stress of caregiving. Education about an illness of any kind will help the patient, the caregiver, and the family understand current needs and also how to plan for future needs. We know that STRESS is one of the biggest problems for the caregiver of a loved one who has dementia. Learning about the disease, how it effects the mind and body, how it progresses, and how to plan for future care needs will greatly relieve that stress.
I have worked specifically with dementia caregivers for almost ten years. I have facilitated caregiver groups, written materials for dementia caregiver education, provided training, lectured at Alzheimer’s conferences and counseled many caregivers of a loved one who has dementia. The importance of learning and receiving support can never be overstated.