Care givers' plight – Dementia, or other care givingAuthor: Ilze Neethling
Recently I watched another CSI: NY Episode (9.10). I say 'another', as I am quite a fan of watching any CS or NCIS series.
While the primary focus as usual, is on crime and forensic procedures; I was more focused on Adam (one of the regular characters) and his Dad suffering from Alzheimer.
It seems as if Adam also suffered from abuse at his Dad\'s hands during childhood something which his Dad would never be able to admit due to the memory problems. Yet Adams keeps visiting him, taking care of him; partially in order to be a good son and partially also to eventually find acknowledgement of the abuse.
This is not supposed to be an analysis of Adam or the particular CSI Episode so forgive the very brief summary and no answers to covert questions above.
I am rather thinking in terms of the burdens of caretaking or caregiving which this TV-episode awakened again.
About 2 years ago I also became involved in Alzheimer research as part of my practice. I am quite proud of the training certificates I am able to add to my portfolio (quite superficially so…) But as I partook in e.g. case studies then, and as I experienced Adam tonight; once again I am sorely reminded that so often we forget the people living and taking care of family members with problems.
Any form of Dementia, whether it being due to a stroke, Alzheimer, Parkinson, or other; places a serious burden on care givers. Patients receive medication, care givers receive 'to do' or 'not to do' lists (I am not even going to venture into financial or other implications).
But, care givers seldom receive any advice how to take care of themselves in the process (In the same breath I could also add ADHD, schizophrenia, or other care takers. Those I do not mention, does not imply lesser importance).
I believe care givers need to receive psycho-education not only with regard to the problem/s per se, what to expect, what to do, how to monitor, and so forth - but also how to take care of themselves.
Care givers regularly are swallowed by care giving, and so often, eventually, start believing they have no right to take time out for themselves: for their own interests, their own activities, their hobbies, or simply to take time to relax.
Care givers also so often have no idea how to continue their lives once the person they took care of, has departed. Such sudden freedom can become quite scary and at times, causes additional problems.
Actually, this writing could relate to any care giver whether it might be Dementia or other seriously debilitating disorder or disease.
An important point - Taking care of yourself during care giving does not imply you are selfish. Possibly being selfish seems to be a prime concern amongst care givers.
As a matter of fact, taking care of yourself is sorely needed if you are in the position of taking care of someone suffering from any mental or physical illness: If you do not take care of yourself, then you are considered selfish.
Only selfish people do not take care of themselves – because then they don\'t have anything left to give to others.
If you find yourself in the position as care giver, please remember you have the right to continue with your life in-between care giving!
Ilze Neethling is a registered Psychological counsellor as well as Psychometrist in private practice, Limpopo, South Africa. She is also the author of various self-help tools and booklets such as 'Saying Good-bye. A colouring booklet for 3-6 year olds.' 2012. ISBN 1-919880-26-7. Mindmuzik Media, Pretoria, South Africa. 'Is death forever, Mommy?' 2011. ISBN - 919880-21-6. Mindmuzik Media, Pretoria, South Africa. 'Children have Feelings too…Emotional intelligence for children.' 2012. ISBN 1-919880-25-9. Mindmuzik Media, Pretoria, South Africa, and plenty more; available at http://www.goodpsychology.net.
Ilze has particular clinical experience in working with children, teenagers, but also adults. Being previously trained in music, drama as well as art, she regularly integrates creativity into her therapeutic interventions. She also holds qualifications in Broadcasting and Journalism, Organisational Transformation and Change Management, and regularly design and develop outcomes-based assessments for various learning programs. In addition she has been involved since 2008 in clinical trial work such as hypertension, Diabetes, COPD, Osteoporosis, Urticaria and Alzheimer.