Click to play

How Do Dementia Caregivers Contribute To Their Caregiving Woes?

Are you contributing to your own caregiver woes?

Have you ever wondered if you're making your caregiving journey harder than it needs to be? In this episode, we explore how caregivers might unknowingly contribute to their own challenges and how to turn things around for a smoother journey.

Emotional Awareness and Control

Caregivers often forget the impact their emotions have on those they care for. People with dementia are highly intuitive and can sense your stress, anger, or frustration. Maintaining emotional control is crucial. Before entering a caregiving situation, take a moment to check your emotional state. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life." By being aware of your emotions, you can create a calmer environment for your loved one.

Shift Your Mindset

Changing your perspective can make a big difference. Instead of focusing on the burdens, see the caregiving journey as an opportunity for personal growth. This shift can lead to a more positive experience. Remember, sanctification through challenges brings us closer to God. Embrace this journey with the belief that it’s for your growth and God’s glory.

Seek and Accept Help

Many caregivers hesitate to ask for help. However, accepting assistance is vital. Make a list of tasks others can help with and share it when someone offers support. This practical strategy ensures you get the help you need without feeling overwhelmed. Episode 127 delves into why it's important to inform others about your situation and how to effectively seek help.

Incorporate Prayer and Gratitude

Prayer and gratitude can transform your caregiving experience. Take time to be thankful for the small joys in life. This could be as simple as enjoying a moment with a pet or a kind gesture from a loved one. Gratitude helps shift your focus from difficulties to blessings. Psalm 46:1 says, "God is our refuge and strength." Embrace this truth and let it guide you.

Join a Supportive Community

Isolation is a common issue for caregivers. Joining a positive, proactive community can provide much-needed support. Whether it's a local group or an online community, connecting with others who understand your journey is invaluable. Sharing experiences and finding solutions together can lighten your load.


Caring for someone with dementia is challenging, but by being mindful of your emotions, shifting your mindset, seeking help, and embracing gratitude, you can improve your caregiving journey. Remember, you are not alone. Reach out for support, stay connected with your faith, and find joy in the little moments.

Join us next time as we explore ways to stop family conflicts in dementia caregiving. And don’t forget, you can sign up for our 'Ask the Dementor' monthly meetup for personalized guidance and support.

Join here:

May the Lord bless and keep you on this journey.

Listen to the Podcast

Listen to the episode on the player above, click here to download the episode and take it with you or listen anywhere you normally listen to podcasts.

a purple and white background with white text | How Do Dementia Caregivers Contribute To Their Caregiving Woes

Recognizing Caregiving Patterns

[0:00] Have you ever been at church and you've seen families where you are now an older adult and they are younger people and they got kids and you watch them and you can recognize that, oh my word, they are contributing to the behavior that their children are experiencing and exhibiting. Have any of you guys ever had that experience? Because I sure have. And I'm sure that the people who were older than me when I was raising children had the same chuckle when they recognized, based off of their own errors later, you know, earlier on, that they, that I was making these errors. Well, just in exactly the same way, today's episode 131, we are going to talk about how we as dementia caregivers actually contribute to our woes, how we are both the cause and the solution or the source and the solution to our caregiving woes. So I really invite you to check out this episode today because it's actually pretty fun.

[1:24] Have you recently found out someone you love has dementia? Struggling to wrap your head around how to be a Christian caregiver? Searching for answers by joining countless Facebook groups, but find them toxic? Learning how to cope with dementia feels difficult, but learning a Christian and caregiving worldview can be easy. Hey, brother and sister in Christ, I'm Lizette, occupational therapist, pastor's wife, turned dementia coach, and a daughter of dementia. In this podcast, you will learn the truth that the way to make dementia care easy is your faith. Knowing that a loving God has decreed this hard providence in your life makes all the difference. Here you will gain skills. You will be challenged by what God says in his word about caregiving, and you will learn exactly what dementia is and is not. Find clarity and certainty from God's word so you have perseverance for this journey. Use science-backed solutions and biblical principles to redeem your time. Praying this blesses you as we dive into dementia from a Christian perspective. Let's glorify God despite dementia.

[2:51] Hey Christian Caregiver, it's Lizette, your Dementia Coach from Dementia Caregiving for Families, the podcast for Bible-believing Christians who wonder how to make their dementia caregiving easier.

[3:07] In this podcast, we look at how to use your God-given talents to give you hope and help so you can create moments of joy and ease your burden during the season of life. Today we are going to talk about how caregivers contribute to their caregiving woes. Now this may not be a popular topic, but that's okay. I definitely know that often I am the source and the solution to my own caregiving problems. Have you ever wondered whether you are the source of your own caregiving woes. I know that I have. So I know very, very much so that when we are the family caregivers of somebody living with dementia, whether we're their spouse, whether we're their daughter, whether we're the son, I know that these do bring.

[4:08] Challenges, or a different way of saying it, opportunities for improvement. If you've ever had a, if you've ever been in a work situation where your boss tells you it's an opportunity for improvement, it's just a nice way to tell you that you are struggling with something and you are being challenged to do it differently. So many, many caregivers inadvertently contribute to their own caregiving woes. We are the source as well as the solution to our caregiving problems.

[4:46] So people with dementia, as they're losing their cognitive abilities, their thinking processes, which is more than just memory, it includes things like being able to reason through things. It includes organizing and planning. It includes things like managing time and controlling our emotions and a whole bunch of other things that start to go away as a person is living with dementia. Dementia, what happens is that rational thinking part or the cognitive abilities go away. What remains to a large extent is intuitive thinking. So what is intuitive thinking? And so I really wanted to, to.

[5:43] Talk to you today about things a little differently, because in the medical model, and unfortunately, my background is in the medical model, but I really have started to come to hate the term challenging behaviors or dementia behaviors, because they really are just normal human behaviors that are magnified. But we all know what intuitive thinking is. And this is the type of thinking that we have when we're intuitively doing something that is without any effort. It often is just kind of below our level of consciousness.

[6:32] Very, very frequently, it is emotion and experience-based. It's not something that we recall. It's something that we feel. And so as our rational thinking processes start to go away, these intuitive thought processes are still there. And so the way I love to describe this to people is that people living with dementia truly are an emotional sponge. They will suck up the energy around them. But they also have this intuitive thinking ability. So I'll use one of my clients as an example. For example, her mom has pretty moderately severe dementia already, but when there are certain things that occur, even though her mom does not have the ability to rationally problem solve through things or to find her way around the house and locate the bathroom and a lot of the things that take our ability to reason away.

[7:52] Even though most of that has significantly been changed in her mom, when there's certain things that happen, she'll put her arms around her daughter and become her mom. She'll go into mother mode. And so that is part of her intuitive thinking. She may not recognize her daughter and be able to say this is my daughter, but she intuitively does know that this is her daughter. And so I want to give that to you as an encouragement if you are one of these dementia caregivers who have this thought going through your mind, but they're not going to know who I am. They're not going to be able to remember me. I believe that they do remember us. They're just not able to express in the same way that, oh, this is Lisette or, oh, this is my daughter. But they are, they know about that emotional connection. They know who you are. And intuitively, intuitively the person goes back to a lot of their intuitive thinking,

lizette cloete on laptop

Understanding Intuitive Thinking in Dementia Caregiving

[9:09] which is very, very much just that, intuition, intuitive.

[9:17] It's not something that we can plan for. It's not something that we can say this is why or that is why. It just happens. And so we're going to look at today, day, how do dementia caregivers contribute to their caregiving woes under three easy little sections. We're going to talk about number one.

[9:43] Our own emotional awareness and emotional control or regulation. Number two, we're going to look at shifting your mindset from the loss and the burden to the gain or the opportunity.

[10:02] And number three, and this is something I talk about frequently, is not seeking or accepting help. Those are three ways that, oh, and the fourth one, incorporating prayer and gratitude, right? So we're going to look at how we as family caregivers actually make our caregiving journey harder for ourselves under those three headings. So as we're going through this episode, I really want you to remember this phrase, people with dementia are emotional sponges, because it can significantly change how you interact with them. And so when we talk about the first point, which is emotional awareness and our own emotional control and regulation, I really want you to remember that. So Proverbs 4 verse 23 says, watch over your heart with all diligence.

[11:04] For from it flows the springs of life. So watch over your own heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. So why is it important to your family caregiver giver for you as a person who is helping somebody, whether it be intermittently, every now and then, or whether you're providing round-the-clock care. Why is it important for you to be aware of your own emotions and be able to control your own emotions?

[11:43] Because of this concept, this reality that people living with dementia really do have a very intuitive thinking and they are emotional sponges. They will take on your emotions. So when you are a daughter caregiver and you're going to visit your parents and you're running in after work because it's the time that you have to go and do the errand or whatever, but you're running and you are stressed because 20 minutes later, you have to be on the other side of town and it takes 25 minutes to get there and you've got to go pick up your kid.

[12:26] Your person that you are helping is going to feed off of that emotional stress that you have. So when you are aware of that going in to the situation, it puts you in better control. And what I mean by that is we do need to, yes, I get it. I know that sometimes we have to do things out of sequence or something comes up, right? I'll use yesterday as an example. I took my mom to the doctor. I've been struggling to get some medication for my dad. It wasn't at the pharmacy close to us. So on the way home, I had to swing by and go get my dad's medication, but I had planned for it because I knew that if I just hopped in the car and I was running errands and I was super stressed because his medication was out and late and all of this stuff, and I'm rush, rush, rush, and I walk into their house, that immediately my dad will sense my stress. And it's really interesting. He's very much more in tune to that, to emotional level.

[13:43] You know, other people's emotions than what my mom is. My mom is super chill. She really is very, very chill. She doesn't get wound up much anymore. And it's actually quite a blessing. But being aware of your own emotional situation before you go into the caregiver mode or role will significantly, significantly impact your own journey with the person living with dementia. When we are upset, when we are angry, when we are tired, when we are just human and we have things going on, it does impact us as a caregiver, but it 100% impacts the person that we are helping. So the first point, just real briefly again, put it in the front of your mind that you know what your emotional thermometer is before you go into the caregiving situation. And if there is any way that you, if it's a pattern, if it's something that happens all the the time, you need to look at doing it differently. You need to come up with a different strategy.

[15:05] You need to think through what are the things that are causing you this emotional stress, because nothing's going to change until something changes. You will always get that same result if you do not do something differently. And so if you're living with the person with dementia.

[15:25] And you are super, super stressed and super, super overwhelmed and super, super tired because you're not sleeping and all these kinds of things, I hear you and I understand how difficult that is. But I also recognize that sometimes when we get into that state, we are contributing to what we are seeing. And that's a tough conversation, because this is going to circle around to the third point in a couple of minutes. So just keep that in mind. When you are running on empty, you are no good to anyone. And so part of my belief is to truly impact you and prevent you from getting to that point. Do you feel alone and isolated and need a little bit more help and support in this journey?

[16:24] Sign up for our next Ask the Dementor monthly meetup where we will come together. Less than 10 people are allowed to sign up at a time so we can have fellowship where we can answer questions, where you can get some Christian guidance, and just an awareness that you are not alone on this journey. I really want you to be able to connect with me. I want to be able to answer your specific questions. So if you're struggling, if you're tired, if you're overwhelmed, if you're stressed, if you just need a little bit of help, sign up for the next Ask the Dementor monthly meetup. The link is in the show notes below.

[17:15] So the next point is we are going to shift our mindset from that of burden and loss to one of opportunity or gain. So one of the things that I don't think we think about, because I certainly do not always think about adversity in my life, which, for example, for me was being in boarding school. It was very, very adversarial in a lot of respects. And to be very honest, I have a pretty adversarial relationship with my dad. All the, like, I don't remember it ever being any different. I remember one day telling my husband that, you know, it's really, it's been difficult for me over the years to figure out what my dad truly believes because as a young person growing up, I would always see him take the exact opposite point of whoever was in the room or in the conversation just to have an argument. So my dad is very argumentative, has always been very argumentative. And so I didn't think, I didn't.

[18:35] Think when I was younger that the adversity of boarding school was an opportunity for me to grow in sanctification, right? And so when we shift our mindset off of this is a loss and a burden to what it is that we are actually gaining as a Christian, as a believer, what are we gaining through this process? Well, one of the biggest things that we are gaining through this process is sanctification. And sanctification is just God's way of helping us become more like him.

[19:18] Working on us becoming more holy like the Lord. And so we are never going to get there. We are always going to be sinners, but it is part of our growth process in holiness, in sanctification, to be in this particular journey in our life because nothing happens by chance. If you're a believer, you likely believe in the providence of God, which means we serve serve a good and loving father who has decreed all things for our good and for his glory. And so I always try to remind myself when I slip into this as well, that when I'm focused on the.

[20:10] Woe is me aspect of it, I'm not focusing on how does this particular journey that we're on also.

[20:21] Glorify God? And how is it growing me in sanctification and in grace? Now, under this heading, I also put, I want us to always, always, always remember, we do not serve a God of confusion. We serve a God of order. He created the world very orderly with a very definitive structure and order to the fabric of lives and our lives.

[20:55] And that many people you will hear will tell you dementia is just terrible. It's the worst thing that can ever happen to you. There's nothing we can do about it. It is so hard. And I know that sometimes I slip into those thoughts too.

[21:15] But what I encourage myself to try to remember when I'm in that moment, when things are hard, because they are hard sometimes, is that God is not a God of chaos. There is order to dementia, and there is order to caregiving. And so part of what I am encouraging you today, that when you're in that space to really think God's thoughts after him. Now, the Bible talks frequently about, you know, and I'm not talking about just random thoughts. I'm talking about we are to think God's thoughts after him, which include that this is for his glory and for our good. It includes thoughts like this is for my sanctification. This is to bring me closer to Christ. So we are encouraged and we're mandated as Christians to think God's thoughts after him. And what that requires us to do is to not think the thoughts of the world. So what are some of the thoughts of the world related to dementia and dementia caregiving? It's the worst kind of death. It's terrible.

[22:44] It's really hard. I have no life. I can come up with With hundreds and hundreds of ways that the world is telling us every single day. Even your doctors. There's nothing we can do. So I'm not going to diagnose it. All of these negative things.

[23:05] The negative narrative, the woe is me and doom and gloom related to caregiving and dementia.

[23:12] Will very quickly get your mind in the gutter and you will experience depression and difficulty as a caregiver. And so what I'm encouraging you to do today is to really shift your mindset, often for the burden and loss, onto the opportunity and gain. And one of the biggest gains that you will get through this caregiving journey is your own sanctification and your own personal growth. It's really interesting because the research, there's a lot of medical research out there that shows that the caregivers who are not burdened by caregiving are the caregivers who see this as an opportunity for their own personal development and growth. And so I encourage you to be one of those caregivers that are focused on God's thoughts after him,

The Importance of Seeking Help

[24:07] how you can grow personally throughout this process and focus on the gain and not the loss. The third point that we're going to talk about real quick today, how caregivers contribute to their caregiving woes is not seeking or accepting help. Now, this is a point that I bring up frequently in the podcast because I know that many, many caregivers.

[24:35] I've heard people tell me, but my friends don't help me. They just stopped coming around.

[24:44] My relationships are all gone. And.

[24:48] I know that dementia is isolating. I understand that. And that's one of the reasons why I'm encouraging people to join a community related to support, whether it be a free positive, not a woe is me in doom and gloom Facebook group. I do have a Facebook group. It's called Dementia Caregiving for Families, where we focus more on the positive or a free support group, local support group. But yet again, you have to be cautious and careful because not all support groups are the same. There are some that are just verbal vomit where everybody comes and feels it's a safe place to just let out their emotions. And quite frankly, there's a place for that. But very quickly, we need to be focused on the actions that we can take to mitigate the responses that we are getting. But many, many, many caregivers, spouses, children are not asking for or accepting help when it is offered. When somebody asks you or tells you, let me know what I can do to help you, I want you to take this very very practical strategy.

[26:09] Make a list and keep it with you all the time. And if anybody ever asks you or says, let me know what I can do to help you, then you take the list out and give it to the person and say, this is what I need. What are you going to do?

[26:26] And because that open ended, let me know what I can do to help you. If you're anything like me, your brain's going a 100 miles a minute on the inside saying, well, you could do this, or you could do this, you could do this, or you could do this, and none of it ever comes out of my mouth, right? Because we don't want to ask people for help, and we don't want to accept.

[26:49] But people are willing to help you. They just don't know what to do. So if you have a list in your handbag ready or in your back pocket or in your wallet, if you're a gentleman that says, these are the activities that you can help me with, then take it out. And if anybody says, let me know what I can do to help, you have a ready list that you can take and give it to them and say, here, pick one or two or three.

[27:17] So another opportunity that we don't often use is we do not tell people that something's going on. So tell people. And if you haven't listened to episode 127, I want you to go back and listen to episode 127, where we talked about why it is important to tell people that someone you love has dementia because we hide it and we shouldn't be hiding it anymore. So tell people, and if you haven't listened to 127, go back and listen to it and then be very, very, very specific about what help you need. And that's why I want you to generate a list. And I want you to take that list and I want you to go to your deacons at your church and say, this is what help I need. I need somebody to come sit with my husband so that I can go to do X, Y, Z. You need to build in the help and the structure early and often. And.

[28:29] Quite frankly, people are busy and they are willing to help, but it's not top of mind. And we know we might have asked for help once three months ago. Life has happened. We need to keep asking for help. Squeaky wheel will get the oil. People will not know that you are burning out, that you are overwhelmed, that you need help if you are not telling them. But really, really do not wait to ask for help.

[29:03] Join a community. Now, the purpose of this podcast was not to talk about my program, but I do have a community where I'm helping family caregivers just like you who are proactive, want to take action, do not want to struggle every single day. It's very very very focused on decreasing your burden and making it easier for you one of my community members recently told me that the biggest thing that she has gotten from being in this community for almost a year now is a sense of calm and a sense of joy that she can still enjoy her relationship with her mother. So if my community is not the right community, do find yourself a community. Do not be like the coal in a fire that gets put off to the side and ends up dying.

Incorporating Gratitude in Caregiving

[30:05] So please join a community. It's very, very important. And then the fourth thing that we're going to look at is you absolutely need to incorporate prayer. But even more importantly, I actually want you to incorporate gratitude. Gratitude is more than just a sense of happiness, right? I'm not talking about being happy.

[30:30] I'm talking about being grateful, being grateful for the little things that are in your life, being grateful for my chickens, right? When I'm having a rough day, I will go sit outside and look at my chickens because they give me such joy and I'm so grateful for a chicken. It's really really funny. I really am the chicken girl. So I want you to be really mindful, and it's thinking God's thoughts after him to incorporate prayer, but to be grateful. Be grateful for the little things. I also have a free Facebook group. I mentioned it earlier in today's program, and one of the things that I ask everybody in the community once a week is tell me something thing that they're grateful for, despite a dementia diagnosis. And sometimes it's just as simple as, you know, my husband was able to draw a picture, or as simple as I had an opportunity to get a hug.

[31:41] They don't need to be big things, but I want you to be grateful. One of the biggest things that I encourage people to do when they're on this journey is to take photos and take videos, because you personally are going to be so grateful for those memories later on, because.

[32:04] Even though it's hard to revisit and think about revisiting this later on, later on when the person is no longer with us, when they have gone to glory, the memories that we have, the photos that we have, the videos that we have will give us comfort and will give us something to remember them by. My grandmother, my maternal grandmother passed away when she was 93, 94, somewhere around there. And I still, in my Bible, have things that she wrote me when I was 18, 19, 20 years old. And so I'm grateful for those memories. I'm grateful for her handwriting. And I'm grateful to remember my grandmother, who also had probably undiagnosed dementia when she passed away.

[33:04] So remember Psalm 46, verse 1 says, God is our refuge and our strength. So I really want you to think God's thoughts after him, incorporate prayer, but more importantly, incorporate gratitude. And if you are really struggling and you need somebody to talk to, I'm inviting you today. Once a month, I do what I call Ask the Dementor coaching session. It's a group coaching session for you guys to be able to sign up for and then actually speak with me and really.

[33:49] Dig deep into what's going on so that you can get some true help. Our next session is June the 20th. So you still have some time to sign up. The link is in the show notes. There's no obligation. I promise you I'm just there to serve you. So please go ahead if you're struggling. Sign up for the Ask the Dementor segment.

[34:16] Yes, it's a play on words because I'm a dementia coach. And another word for coach is mentor. And so ask the dementia coach or ask the de-mentor. So please go ahead and sign up. I would love to meet you guys. I really want this podcast to be interactive and serving you. So if If I'm not serving you, I need you to let me know what I can bring, what you'd love to hear. But please, if you are struggling, it's once a month, go ahead and sign up. It's June the 20th. The link is in the show notes, and I really look forward to seeing you there. And like I end, if I remember all of my podcasts, may the Lord bless you and keep you today. And remember, I do pray for you. I know everybody probably says, yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody prays for everybody. But in the mornings when I do my prayer journal, I pray for the family caregivers of people living with dementia. So sometimes by name, if I know who you are, I will pray for you by name. But come back, listen to next episode. The next episode is actually going to be kind of cool and kind of fun because it is one of my community members. And we're going to talk about how to stop family conflict when dementia caregiving. So tune in next time.

[35:43] Thanks for joining me today, Success Seeker. I pour my heart and soul into this program to serve you. You can serve me by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and join our free Facebook group, Dementia Caregiving for Families. It's a positive and proactive space to navigate dementia caregiving together. Get practical tools and find support, but without the verbal vomit. Be a part of our community where we seek to find peace of mind and ease despite the dementia diagnosis. So join today and see you next time as our flight takes off.

Lizette a dementia caregiving

Subscribe To

Christian Dementia Caregiving Podcast

Ever Wonder How To Know What Is Causing Your Caregiver Stress?
Take Our FREE Caregiver Stress Assessment Today!

Join the Christian Dementia Caregiving Facebook Group today for more support:

Are You A Christian Dementia Caregiver Struggling To Cope With Caregiving?
Join the FREE "Ask the Dementia Mentor" Monthly Meet Up! And be on the podcast, get support and your questions answered.

Register For Your Personalized Dementia Care Audit
Get Individual Guidance & Support! Only One Available Per Month. Be a Co-Creator of the podcast and get a customized audit of your caregiving journey.

Enjoy our podcast? Please take a moment to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify —it really supports our show!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!