Letter: Dementia patients, caregivers need our support

From: Rebekah Chastain


As a health care professional and an activities director, I wanted to write on the important topic of the care of those of our family who have dementia, either Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. An illness that attacks the brain is certainly difficult for everyone involved. No one wishes to have to be cared for, yet they become dependent on others as their abilities become diminished.

The challenge is to provide necessary help while preserving the person’s dignity, value as a person and value as a family contributor. We need to make sure they feel loved and appreciated and can be provided opportunities to engage in meaningful activities they enjoy to continue to give their lives quality, not just quantity. No one wants to feel as if their existence is just causing a burden to someone else. No one wants to live without a say in their life or to be treated like children who have no choices. We must take time to listen, time to consider what others consider a satisfying thing to do, not necessarily what we find satisfying. This is no less than what we would want someone to consider for us.

As caregivers we, too, need support. We can greatly benefit from different educational and support organizations. They provide needed support, ideas, opportunities for self-expression and problem-solving. Caregivers, too, need to engage in meaningful activities for themselves that they enjoy to preserve their quality of life and keep their objectivity. When everyone gets their needs met, there is much more peace and joy. Isn’t that what we all want?