You will often feel angry and at times perhaps even violent. Many a carer has also actually attacked physically the person they are looking after. This is a natural reaction and we all have our own tolerance level. Your anger will be very mixed — it will be directed at the sufferer, directed at yourself for having reacted in the way that you have, and directed at the general situation that has allowed these circumstances to prevail. You may be angry with the doctors for not being able to cure the dementia, with others for not providing adequate services, with the government for not making better care available, and so on.

When this situation arises — and if it hasn’t it almost certainly will — try to remember that the behaviour that has provoked it is not aimed at you as an individual, but is a response engendered within the sufferer by his or her illness. However personal an attack it may appear to be, it is merely a symptom of the sufferer’s illness.

If you arrive at the point of only just being able to stop yourself being physically aggressive or have actually been unable to prevent yourself responding in this way, you need help and support. It is not something to be ashamed of, it is not something to lock up inside yourself; it is a warning to everybody that you need help. To whom you turn will depend very much on your own circumstances. Other members of the family may be able to help relieve the strain, either by taking over for a while or by acting as an emotional outlet. A friend in a similar position to yourself, perhaps met through a support group, may also be able to help. You ought, anyway, to visit your doctor as he may be able to mobilize professional support that will sustain you in the longer term. Please try not to feel ashamed and guilty; this reaction is normal and everybody has their breaking-point. Once you have discovered yours, you should try to plan ahead. In some ways your task may be easier for knowing where you stand. Also, remember that whatever you have done, the sufferer will almost certainly forget, unless it is a repeated and frequent occurrence.

Paradoxically, like so many other situations in life, it is the apparently trivial situations that cause the greatest problems. For this reason you may not feel like sharing your problem with others, but it is important that you overcome this reluctance. If you can also manage to distinguish between your anger at the sufferer’s behaviour and your anger with the person himself or herself, this may make your burden easier to bear.

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