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Surviving Caregiving with Dignity, Love and Kindness

By Barbara Hanson Dennis

(Page 3 of 4)

9. Dignity: As long as possible, it is important to treat those with dementia with as much dignity as possible. This occurs not only through participation in meaningful activities, but also when going to visit the doctor. One of my husbandís most important messages to doctors and other groups he addressed was that patients do not want to be ignored or separated from the caregiver during discussion. If there were things I wanted the doctor to know that I didnít want to say in front of Les, I wrote them down and handed them to the nurse before we went in so the doctor could read them. It is not always easy to work around the patient as their abilities diminish, but it is vital to allow them to maintain their dignity, and especially not to treat them as a child. They have a lifetime of experience even if they have lost some skills, so they must be allowed personal freedom balanced with the degree of risk.

10. Respite: This is last, but not least. Even though Les had long-term care insurance so we could have paid caregivers to come in a few hours a day, I did have a stroke after 10 years of being a caregiver. It was only then that my sons suggested we put Les into a nursing home. If you have long-term care insurance, itís good to use it while your loved one is still home so you can get much needed breaks. If you donít have that insurance, hopefully family and/or friends will offer to help. If they donít offer, ask. It you still need help, try your church or social service agencies in your municipality or township.

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