How caregivers can cope

When a parent has young onset dementia (YOD), the whole family, including the children, is affected. Here is some coping advice from experts.

Advice from Ms Eveline Silva, Psychologist, Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI):

  • Get it checked: As YOD symptoms differ and are often ambiguous, get it diagnosed by a doctor who will look at the family’s medical history, carry out cognitive assessments, do a blood test to rule out reversible causes, and may recommend a brain scan.
  • Get the house in order: If the diagnosis confirms dementia, organise family support as it’s going to be a long-haul disease.
  • Repair/re-ignite relationships: If the relationship between caregiver and patient has been fragile or difficult, there is going to be a struggle. If it is good, they will be able to cope much better. So, strengthen relationships.
  • Build resources: Caregivers need to build both internal and external resources. Patients and caregivers should learn all they can about the illness to prepare for its progression and make life plans regarding property, finances, treatment and care. Caregivers should not wait until their internal reserves are depleted to turn to external resources such as home care, support groups, neighbours and friends.
  • Get some respite: Caregivers should not feel guilty about getting some respite, whether this means placing the patient in day care, getting home care, or asking others to help run simple errands.

Ref. Q15