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Hi all. I’m new on here and really need some moral support. I care for an elderly lady who is blind and has dementia. I’ve been with her for a year now and find I’m feeling like the life is being sucked out of me. Her temper flares quickly and harshly, often calling us bad names for offenses like not knowing what time it is.
She demands constant one on one attention and when she speaks she insists on holding my hand. I have become so adverse to this that I will fake a cough or sneeze just so she won’t touch me.
I have been trying to cut back on my work (currently 10 out of every 14 days at 15 hour shifts but it doesn’t feel like enough.
Hello Rhk and welcome to you. You have landed on a Forum called, "Musings." I would like to suggest that you Post your writing on the "Caregiver's Forum." There is not much activity on this Forum, and there is so much more on the Caregiver's. You deserve to get as much good input as possible.
You do mention you are suffering burnout; that is indeed something that happens, even when a professional caregiver such as you are. Sometimes we really need a bit of respite to restore ourselves. This is not an easy patient and her being blind makes things even more complex. Is she completely blind or partially so?
Since she has no or low sight, she may want to hold your hand when speaking to you as that is how she "sees," through touch and that may be how she feels closer to those with her. That is understandable. Touch is important to those we care for; sometimes a massage, or hand/arm massage with hand cream after a warm wash is pleasant and calming for the person. Some do this each day or when the patient seems stressed.
Does your client have family? If so, it may be time to approach them re a possible need for your client to see her physician for a checkup and to have some labs done; she may have a physical condition that is causing her difficulty that comes out in behaviors. There are also medications that can be helpful for your client. If she is driving you to distraction, imagine how it must feel to live inside her head thinking all the thoughts she has and feeling them. Medication can be helpful but takes a good physician to prescribe; if she has a dementia specialist, all the better.
It is also good to stop and see if there are any "triggers" for her negative behaviors; sometimes there are and it is good to know what they are so they can be dealt with. Often, such behaviors will happen late afternoon or at night; this is called, "sundowning." There is a lot written about this and we can find that on the computer with a little search; in fact, try clicking on "Solutions" at the top of the page and see if "sundowning" is discussed there.
NOTE: One of the most common reasons for our person with dementia to have negative behaviors is because they may have a "silent" urinary tract infection. These UTIs are called, "silent," because while there may be no signs of pain or burning; there is almost always a very negative change in behaviors until the UTI is treated. It is worth having that looked into; it is actually quite a common occurence in our Loved Ones with dementia.
You work long hours on what appears to be double shifts. Is there any way for you to take some time off, such as having "vacation" time off? Sometimes that helps us to have some time to recoup our energy. or perhaps to have hours adjusted temporarily?
Does your lady have anything she likes to do in the way of an activity for someone with lack of vision? Lashing out in anger is not uncommon; she cannot monitor her feelings or behaviors; with dementia, sometimes the person simply acts out on impulse and they know no other way but to use words. They know no better and arguing or scolding does nothing except to cause more of the same. Distraction and re-focusing onto something else can be helpful.
I am sorry for what you are dealing with; if you would like to speak to a professional free of charge, the Alzheimer's Assn. has a 24 Hour Helpline that can be reached at (800) 272-3900. If you call, ask to be transferred to a Care Consultant. They are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia and family/caregiver dynamics; they are very supportive and have much information and can often assist us with our problem solving. As said, there is no fee for this service.
So hope you do decide to Post on the Caregiver's Forum where you will receive more input. Do let us know how you are doing, we are all here in support of one another and that now includes you too. Your job and you are very important.