Are You a Dementia Caregiver Without Knowing It?

Caring for someone is a natural part of life, but sometimes we don't even realize we're doing it!

This episode explores the hidden world of dementia caregiving, revealing the many ways we might be supporting a loved one without recognizing it as caregiving.

How to Know You Are a Dementia Caregiver

0:02:29 Recognizing the Role of a Caregiver
0:11:45 Balancing Personal Life with Caregiving
0:16:34 Embracing the Role of a Family Caregiver

Key Takeaways:

Caregiving is broader than you think: Helping a parent with finances, driving a spouse to appointments, or simply providing companionship to an aging friend – these are all forms of caregiving.

Recognizing your role matters: Identifying yourself as a caregiver opens doors to valuable resources, support, and self-care strategies.

Early identification is key: The sooner you understand your caregiving role, the better prepared you'll be to navigate challenges and find support.

Don't be afraid to ask for help: You don't have to go it alone. There are many resources available to help you on your caregiving journey.

This episode is for you if:

You're unsure if you're a caregiver.
You're feeling overwhelmed or stressed supporting a loved one.
You're looking for information and resources on dementia caregiving.

Remember, you're not alone in this.

By recognizing your role and seeking support, you can make caregiving a more positive and manageable experience for yourself and your loved one.

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Introduction to Dementia Caregiving

[0:00] I just finished recording episode 85 of Dementia Caregiving for Families, where we discussed what it actually means to be a dementia caregiver.

And I used the very famous Rosalind Carter quote, which says that there are only four types of people in the world.

Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

And I specifically used Rosalind Carter's quote because number one, she recently passed away and it's been kind of in the forefront of my mind, but it is a very specific and very unique quote in the reality of the matter is that to a large extent, we're all caregivers and we don't even recognize it as being a caregiver.

[0:57] And the other reason is because Rosalind Carter actually had dementia.

And so since this program is Dementia Caregiving for Families, I thought it would be an appropriate use of her quote.

So listen to episode 85, How to Know You Are a Dementia Caregiver.

Nothing like tripping over your words but anyway i hope you enjoyed today's episode and and again if you like this please, like and share and subscribe this podcast and share it with other family caregivers of a person living with dementia hey there success seeker welcome to dementia caregiving for families.

[1:41] Do you feel overwhelmed with the daily struggle of dementia caregiving looking for an easier path.

You're in the right place. On this podcast, we teach you the skills to simplify caregiving.

We unravel the mystery of dementia and guide you through the often difficult behaviors.

I'm Lizette, your host and fellow family caregiver.

As an occupational therapist, I bring my professional and personal experience to this community.

Here we speak the truth, but without the verbal vomit.

I know you will find value in today's program, so buckle up while this flight takes off.

Recognizing the Role of a Caregiver

[2:29] Welcome to episode 85 of Dementia Caregiving for Families.

I have been reflecting on something for quite a while now after one of my previous episodes where I interviewed Lance A.

Slatton from All Home Care Matters, where he actually mentioned in the interview that he, as a young married man was helping his father for an extended period of time, but never identified as a family caregiver.

And I have been reflecting on that a lot, that we have a significant misconception sometimes, I think, of what it means to be a caregiver.

I have noticed that a lot of of people do not identify as a caregiver, which means they're not seeking the help that they need related to specifically dementia caregiving.

It could be things like congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or back pain. It can be anything.

And when we don't identify as a family caregiver of a person living with dementia, what I've concluded is occurring is we're actually making our journey so much harder for ourselves because we don't have some strategies in place.

[3:59] Recently, Rosalind Carter passed away, and she actually has a very famous quote that said, there are only four types of people in the world.

Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be a caregiver, and those who will need a caregiver.

And I don't know if you know this, but Rosalind Carter was actually diagnosed with dementia herself later on in her life.

So I find it quite an appropriate.

[4:39] Quote to use when talking about dementia caregiving.

So let's talk about caregiving in the space of places that we don't necessarily think about being a caregiver, because we call them something else.

For example, a mother who has just had a baby, she is actually a caregiver, the father too.

A grandparent who is helping their child, their own child with, for example, babysitting a grandchild is a caregiver.

A spouse in a normal marriage where there is no physical or cognitive impairment are to an extent caregivers of one one another when our roles and responsibilities are in different spheres.

[5:34] So I'll use my husband and I as an example. I've always been the one that does the financials of our household.

I pay the bills. I do the budgeting, all of those kinds of things.

And my husband has always been the one who does all of the maintenance and upkeep of the house, changing the tires, making sure the car has had the oil change, but we don't call ourselves one another's caregiver.

But I wanted to bring these specific ideas up today because I think it's very important for us to give a couple of ideas of where we are actually helping somebody that we are.

[6:20] A caregiver, right? For example, here are some caregiving tasks that we do when we are helping somebody living with dementia that we may not necessarily see ourselves as a caregiver because we're not living with the person 24 hours a day.

So what does that look like? Things like monitoring safety, right?

So if you are helping ensure a safe environment for a person like a parent or a spouse, we are providing care, caregiving, even though we're not specifically staying with that person at the same time.

But we are definitely providing caregiving tasks when we are helping a person with their medication management, whether that be picking up prescriptions, whether that be be calling the pharmacy, making sure it's getting to the pharmacy, whether it be putting a pillbox together, all of those kinds of tasks, we are a dementia caregiver when we assume the role and responsibility of doing that.

The easy one for people to see is when we're physically assisting a person with getting dressed or going to the bathroom or brushing their teeth or combing their hair, those are very easy for people to identify that they are a caregiver, but when we are.

[7:49] Providing a person with verbal reminders about things physically, like taking a shower and so on, we're actually in the role of being a caregiver.

Another activity that we don't necessarily think about related to caregiving is if we're We're helping with meal preparation, whether that be taking somebody grocery shopping or making sure that, you know, there is adequate food in the house or ordering food for them online to be delivered.

All of those type of activities are caregiving activities, but we don't identify them as being a caregiver. giver.

If you are providing transportation to somebody, if you're picking them up and taking them for doctor's appointments or for a ride just to get out of the house or, you know, taking them grocery shopping, providing a person with transportation falls under the domain of actually starting to provide care, even if that person is not needing 24-hour care yet.

If we have to help somebody living with dementia manage their doctor's appointments or making sure that they get their hair cut or that they're going and seeing the eye doctor or going to the dentist, if we're helping with those kinds of activities, then we are...

[9:14] Caregiver to a person living with dementia. If we're providing them companionship, if we stop by on a Sunday to go visit because the person is isolated or living alone.

[9:27] Or we want to give them socialization, then we are actually being a caregiver, even though we don't think about it in that light.

For example, my husband and I, we live about 15 minutes away from my mom and dad, Even though we know that we are providing them care, on a Sunday when we go, we spend a little bit of time to give them socialization and provide them some companionship by being their network of people who are helping them.

So when you're providing companionship to somebody, it is a sign or it is an indication that you are becoming a caregiver.

If you are helping with maintenance or cleaning a house or organizing somebody to come clean the house, this can be a sign that the person is needing assistance and that you are a caregiver.

There are many, many, many of these subtle signs like doing the yard work or making sure that the car has been taken for an oil change or helping your parents or your spouse make decisions for long-term care planning, you know, what's coming in the future, anticipating their needs.

All of these activities are indications that we may actually be a dementia caregiver.

[10:52] So I wanted to bring these up today because caregiving is a normal part of our life.

[11:00] We are all, in society, caregivers of somebody, whether we recognize that to be the case or not.

Where this becomes a challenge in dementia caregiving is when we don't identify the fact that we are actually assuming the role as a dementia caregiver to the person that we're helping, whether it be our parent, a sibling, our spouse, whoever, it can cause a lot of resentment.

It can cause a lot of frustration. It can cause a lot of emotional upheaval when we don't recognize that the roles are changing, that the responsibilities are changing.

Balancing Personal Life with Caregiving

[11:45] And it makes it difficult for us then. And then it's very easy to become resentful of the fact that somebody is actually requiring some assistance.

We want to make sure that we consider balancing our personal life with caregiving.

And I know this is mentioned on so many different levels and all over, but you cannot pour from an empty cup.

You cannot be an effective caregiver to someone or a care partner to someone if you're not taking care of yourself.

[12:25] Where this becomes a challenge is because when we're not taking care of ourselves because we haven't identified that our roles and responsibilities related to someone else is changing, it means that we just, we don't put it in the forefront of our mind that we need to actually take care of ourself.

We have to be able to admit to ourselves that we are a caregiver or a care partner of any person needing assistance.

Because if you cannot admit that to yourself, then in In essence, what happens is you've put yourself in a very difficult position because then you're not actually looking for information to help you along your journey.

[13:16] Caregiving is something specifically in the dementia caregiving space.

About 60% of caregivers of a person living with dementia are still working about 30 hours a week.

And the statistics, according to the Alzheimer's Association's Annual Facts and Figures Report, indicates that one out of three adults over the age of 65 actually have cognitive impairment.

So if we just stop and think about that, I go to church, we've got about 200 people in our church.

The people above 65 in our congregation are maybe 20%.

So say there's 300 people, I shouldn't have done this because I'm terrible at math, there would be about 60 adults who are over the age of 65.

Of those 60 adults, 20 of them have cognitive impairment.

But we don't notice it because people are, you know, sometimes just helping one another, which is the good and right thing to do.

But the reality of the matter is that that we are, people who are living with dementia or cognitive loss are your neighbors.

They're your family. They're your colleagues.

[14:34] If you're working, they're your colleague that you're having coffee with is struggling with trying to help a family member or a spouse or somebody or or even a child, because they are caregivers.

[14:49] So the reality of the matter is, if you are helping another person with any of these tasks, and probably a hundred tasks that I haven't even thought of or mentioned, then you are a dementia caregiver.

But that's okay because you have hope. If you know that you are helping somebody living with dementia.

[15:12] Then you can plan for it. You can start to put strategies in place.

You can start to do education related to what it means to help a person living with dementia.

You can listen to a podcast. If you know that the person's struggling, if you admit the fact that you are a family caregiver, then you can start to listen to podcasts, watch some YouTube videos, read a book, book, start to educate yourself about what it is that you're going to be needing to do.

Because the longer we don't actually take care of that type of information gathering, which is one of my frustrations with why it's frustrating to me that a lot of physicians don't want to quote, unquote, diagnose a person living with dementia, is they're actually, they hamstrung the family caregiver, because now you don't even know where to go look. You can't Google what you don't know.

So if you don't have the background to know that this person may be or not may be facing dementia, how are you going to then on your own go find information?

But if you don't know that you're a caregiver, you're not going to ask for help.

If you don't recognize that you're a caregiver, you're not going to look for resources to help you.

[16:25] If you don't recognize that you're a caregiver, you're not going to put into place a self-care routine to help you so that you can do this for the long run.

Embracing the Role of a Family Caregiver

[16:34] So to encourage you today, I want you to really consider if you're listening to this podcast, I am so grateful that you're here because that means you're either recognizing changes in a person you love or you're recognizing already that you are actually a family caregiver of a person living with dementia.

And what a wonderful opportunity you have, because if you know and recognize that you're a caregiver, you can actually take steps to make it easier for yourself.

There's a lot of things that we can do to actually make caregiving easier, but we're not doing it because we're not necessarily talking about it earlier on.

And so I thank you if you're here, if you know of somebody who is helping another person and they have cognitive loss, I ask you to please send them to this podcast.

I'd love to have them listen. I'd love to have them here and support them in whatever way I can on their journey.

And I invite you, if you are listening to this podcast, I am doing what I call the founding 54 members of a low-cost organization.

[17:46] Group coaching program that is not a membership.

It is a low-cost group coaching program that until the end of March, I will be running this special to start this program for family caregivers of people living with dementia.

And I would love to talk to you about what that looks like if you are a family caregiver and you resonate with me and you want a place where we can actually coach you through some of the challenges that come with living with dementia, things like challenging behaviors, things like negotiating the healthcare system, things like managing your own stress and actually knowing what that looks like.

All of these types of things are things that we address in this low-cost group coaching program.

And for right now until the end of March, when I close the founding 54, whoever joins at this introductory level will get lifetime access to the coaching.

[18:49] Lifetime access for the person that they are supporting, which I think is a really good introductory offer for people.

But the biggest thing that you can get from this almost immediately upon joining is the fact that if you are struggling with challenging behaviors that are very common to people living with dementia you'll have a way to have your questions answered weekly immediately, and ongoing through this particular program so yet again if you're interested the founding 54 uh the link will be in the show notes i'd love to speak to you if you need a little bit more.

[19:26] Information, you can schedule a call and we will see you on the other end.

And thank you so much for listening to today's program.

I ask you if you like what you hear to please leave me a review on Apple Podcasts or iTunes.

I'm not an Apple user. I'm an Android user.

So don't hate me, Apple users, but Apple iTunes is where podcast reviews are actually assimilated and kept.

And so it would really bless me if you would consider leaving me a review.

And more specifically, even better than a review is share this podcast with other people, other people who are in this this particular situation, people at church, people at work, caregivers are everywhere.

And we are not doing a good job of identifying who they are.

They're your friends, they're your family, and people who are helping somebody living with dementia.

One of the biggest challenges is they don't actually ask for help.

And they don't tell anybody that they are supporting somebody with cognitive loss.

And part of my mission is to change that narrative and bring people out earlier so that we can give them the help and support that they need.

So I will see you on Monday.

Subscribe To Dementia Caregiving For Families Podcast

If you feel like dementia caregiving is hard and unpredictable and you are struggling to help a spouse or a parent living with dementia, join our next free workshop.

Join our Facebook Group at: 

Become a  Member of Our Exclusive Program!

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.

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