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2023 AUG Family Caregivers Blog

Family Caregivers' Blog is available to share helpful information to support families caring for those with dementia.

"Surprisingly Fine?"

Mrs. M is still feeling emotionally drained after a call from her mother. This time, she couldn't bear it and ended up hanging up the phone on her mother. She felt a twinge of guilt but decided to cut the call short for her own well-being. While she was concerned about her mother's feelings, it's also important to alleviate her own caregiver stress.

However, when Mrs. M called her mother later, she found out that her mother didn't remember much and actually seemed relieved when the call ended abruptly. It seems that her mother felt a bit overwhelmed and appreciated having the call ended for her. While being hung up on was a shock, surprisingly, her mother was "fine (?)". While caregivers may worry, it's important to take care of their own feelings too. Sometimes, stepping back from caregiving might be necessary to prevent oneself from breaking down. It's surprising how things can be surprisingly okay, whether the person being cared for is aware of it or not, and it's essential to respect that.

"DIY, but Caregiver Ingenuity is Crucial"

Mr. N's husband received advice from the family doctor that he relies too much on Mrs. N, so he should try to do things himself if he can. Immediately, Mr. N's husband took on the challenge of making an omelet! Mrs. N is nervous as she watches him. Despite following the recipe book, Mr. N's husband struggles to get it right. Following the recipe steps is challenging for him. With dementia, it's common to have difficulty progressing from step 1 to 2, and then 3. Looking at all the steps at once can lead to confusion. It's important to follow each step sequentially: complete step 1, then move on to step 2, and so on. Despite some deviations, Mr. N's husband seems to be enjoying himself, so it's okay if the steps aren't perfect. The most important thing is that the food turned out delicious! While caregivers can't intervene directly, they still need to be vigilant, especially around potential hazards like stoves. Cooking takes longer when done independently. It's helpful to have time and patience to cook together. Instead of giving a recipe book when the cooking steps are a concern, why not try writing the steps on flashcards? Write only one step on each flashcard and proceed to the next step on the next card. This method might make it easier to follow the steps.

"Not Just Cooking, but Driving Worries Too..."

In addition to dementia, aging can make driving increasingly difficult. Since driving can affect not only oneself but also others, it's important to carefully decide when to stop driving. With dementia, judgment and insight decline, making it difficult to accurately assess one's own driving abilities. When asked by a family doctor, "How's your driving?" many people might respond, "It's fine." If family members or friends start to feel that the driving ability of someone with dementia is declining, it's important for them to consult with the family doctor. It's necessary to explain specifically when you think driving ability has declined. Just saying "it's dangerous" won't convey the message to the doctor. Describe specific instances like ignoring signals, frequently missing stop signs, scratching the car against walls, forgetting where the car is parked, or getting lost in familiar places. Family doctors may request driving tests from ICBC or even request the suspension of a driver's license.

It's important to consider alternatives to driving before dementia progresses, such as getting used to public transportation like SkyTrain or buses early on. Using services like HandyDart might also be worth considering.

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