Caring for Someone with Cognitive Impairment
As a caregiver of someone with cognitive impairment, we know that it can be difficult to deliver care. Often caring for the other person takes up so much of your time, attention, and energy that you’re left with little to give to anyone else and certainly nothing left for yourself. This is not sustainable for a long amount of time. You’ve likely heard of the analogy of being on an airplane in the event of an emergency and being instructed to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting someone in our care to put on theirs. That’s because if we want to be helpful to someone else, we need to be healthy ourselves. The same is true if you are a caregiver for someone with cognitive functioning impairment due to dementia, Alzheimer’s, brain injury, or general aging. However, most times, caregivers are not able to carve out the time and attention for their own physical and mental health and issues can arise from that self-neglect.
Symptoms & signs of caregiver stress
- Feeling persistently tired
- Feeling overwhelmed in general
- Snapping at other loved ones for no reason
- Unmanageable stress
- Feelings of isolation, like you are the only one who cares
- Having negative thoughts about the person in your care
- Guilt for having negative thoughts about your loved one.
- Changes in weight
- Trouble sleeping
- Anger management issues
- Decline in your physical health overall
When is it time to get help?
If you are the caregiver for someone in your life, it’s important to recognize and respect your personal limits. If you are unable to enlist the help of others, for whatever reason, you likely feel the burden of shouldering this responsibility all on your own. That can feel suffocating and overwhelming. If you are having trouble coping, find your physical or mental health to be poor because you’re barely able to care for yourself – then it’s time to seek help.
Caregiver stress treatment methods
Your therapist will talk with you to find out the primary source of your stress (anxiety, depression, frustration, etc.). Once that’s identified, together you can come up with some strategies to alleviate that stress. Everyone has different needs, so treatment methods can vary from individual to individual. However, effective treatment methods include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Person Centered Therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Emotionally Focused Therapy is based on observations and experience, which looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interaction.
- Existential Therapy is focused on providing the client with a greater understanding of themselves including self-development, and self-awareness. This therapy works on the individual’s unique set of choices and the meaning behind them, make them aware they can’t blame their decisions and the repercussions entirely on past conditioning and/or genetics.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Your therapist will talk with you about strategies to get some respite care, or some other kind of support for physically caring for your loved one if that’s applicable. Most important, though is that the focus will be on you.
We offer counselling and coaching to help you develop:
- The mental resiliency and coping skills to deal with the stress, worry, anxiety, sense of isolation or helplessness, negative thoughts, fatigue, and/or sense of being overwhelmed that you may experience in your efforts to support and/or care for your loved one.
- The knowledge and skills to facilitate exercises with your loved one that can help to improve their cognitive functioning.
Insight can support you during this time in your life. We have therapists who specialize in this area. Contact us to learn more.