May 8, 2012

Caregiving like Combat?

“Mothers of older autistic children had levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol similar to those found in combat soldiers and sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Long-term caregiving can have a corrosive impact on a person’s well-being.”  Michelle Cottle

According to this Newsweek (May 7, 2012) article, long-term caregiving is as stressful as being in combat.  Although this article is about parents of children who have autism, I would state that I believe caregiving someone who has dementia is as stressful.  It has been one month since Dwane moved into assisted living, and just now am I beginning to get some energy back.  The five years of caregiving, in which I was primary and pretty much 24/7, was incredibly depleting.  A reader, Kathy, wrote that Lewy Bodies Dementia is particularly stressful because of the extreme variations in lucidity and because of the person's extreme resistance to having the primary caregiver gone.  She wrote, as was my experience, that her husband complained if she was gone that she was leaving him with a 'babysitter'.  That was part of the stress for me:  Dwane's extreme resistance to having someone else here, and the reality that he could not be left alone (although he did not see that).  Lewy Bodies Dementia is unique, also, in that the person does not have the memory problems that are associated with Alzheimer's Disease, but does have very significant problems with comprehension, judgment and reasoning ---- and, at least in our case, the inability to see that he has those problems.  Knowing how very stressful this caregiving is, we must have the needed respite for ourselves.  In my case, the only way to get that respite was to have him live in a facility.  How do you find respite from your caregiving?

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