“Time is what we want most but what we use worst.” – William Penn

I just got off the phone with a man who has been caring for his wife for several years and is now exhausted.

He kept thinking she was going to get better. “She did everything for me,” he said. “Now she does not recognize me.”

He was very sad, but at the end of the conversation he was glad that he made the call to Memory Matters.

As I have said many times, I am inspired to write about subjects that people are dealing with every day – people like you who need help.

Being a caregiver for someone with dementia is truly the most daunting responsibility anyone can experience.

Your life is turned upside down on a daily basis. As a full-time caregiver you, and you alone, are responsible for things that used to be “teamwork.”

Husbands are now doing the cooking, cleaning and shopping. Wives who have never handled the finances are now paying the bills, overseeing investments, and keeping up with house repairs.

How can you get everything done and still have a few hours a day for yourself?

A great first step would be a respite program. Respite means a “short rest” or a “break.”

Memory Matters offers a dementia-specific program five days a week. You could start with just one or two days a week. Can you imagine having time to go shopping, to doctor’s appointments, or to just take a walk? As your loved one’s needs increase, adding home care to help with the bathing and dressing would be the next logical step.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself that could help you make some decisions:

  • Has there been a recent emotional or medical crisis?
  • Does he or she bathe less often and are they able to bathe on their own effectively?
  • Is your loved one able to pick out clothing for the day and dress without assistance?
  • Have there been recent falls?
  • Are you managing his or her medicine?
  • Has your loved one become incontinent more than two to three times a week?

Make an appointment with someone at Memory Matters. We can try and make a plan for you that can give you some relief and offer information on resources available to help with some of the financial burdens associated with additional care.

Call us at 843-842-6688 or visit our website at www.memory-matters.org.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org