My father just turned sixty and recently retired. He doesn’t socialize as he did before, and I often can’t get him to go out, even to sit on a park bench. He has missed two of our lunch dates in the past three months. Recently I brought him to a gathering of his old friends. They were discussing the latest crisis in the news and he just sat there without saying anything. Afterward, he told me that he didn’t know what they had been talking about. What could be the cause of this? How should I handle these changes?**Stephanie Aragon**
Director of Helpline
On the CaringKind Helpline we often get calls from caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed with all of the responsibilities of caregiving. This can certainly have a negative impact on your work, as well as your social life. It is as important for your father to have stimulating activities as it is for you.
Our Helpline Specialists can provide you with the locations of adult day programs for your father to attend while you are at work. An adult day program would grant your father the opportunity to socialize with other people with dementia, and some even provide transportation to and from the program. If an adult day program is not appropriate for your father, a Helpline Specialist can discuss home care options with you. They can give you information about agencies that provide home care workers who may tend to your father for a few hours a day, or as needed. Here at CaringKind, we offer Dementia Care Training for Professional Caregivers (DCTPC), which is specifically designed to empower home and personal care workers to provide the highest quality of care to persons with dementia. Graduates of the DCTPC are given the opportunity to create and post a profile on TogetherWeCare.com, a resource created by CaringKind to bridge the gap between home care workers who have completed the training and families seeking to hire trained aides to provide care. Caregivers like you are able to view and search profiles, as well as post job ads.
It is crucial to remember that your health is as important your father’s. Sometimes stress can affect one’s physical health, and then both you and the person you are caring for are adversely affected. We always suggest that caregivers take care of themselves throughout the caregiving time. It would be best if you arranged home care to include a weekday evening and/or one day on the weekend so that you can be with friends on a regular basis. Going out to eat or to the movies, having a massage, or just visiting a friend are wonderful ways of relaxing. You need not feel guilty about doing this. It will relieve your stress and provide you with a way of balancing the responsibilities of caring for your father as well as yourself.
You also need not feel alone in caring for your father. Joining a support group can be a huge help. Our support groups aim to provide caregivers with an opportunity to discuss the many challenges of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders with others who understand. Our goal is to provide a safe setting which promotes mutual support, both practical and emotional, throughout the course of the disease.
Take advantage of all of CaringKind’s programs and services, which are free of charge. And remember you can always call our 24-hour Helpline to speak with a Helpline Specialist so that you can receive the information, comfort, and support you need.