This article highlights the issues and problems that carers must face when looking after someone with a dementia related illness. Many carers become seriously depressed, isolated or even marginalised and the demands of the caring role can cause many physical, mental and emotional health problems that if not addressed can lead to complete mental breakdown and ultimately ‘burnout’. The key to surviving as a carer is in developing an understanding of the nature of dementia, together with a realistic attitude to the never ending workload and then to adopt effective coping strategies. This involves accessing and accepting help from many sources; these include cognitive behaviour therapy, complementary practitioners, joining a support group, maximising income and developing a healthy lifestyle. A number of practical suggestions are made that will help a carer maintain physical and mental well-being; some simple tried and tested pleasurable activities are also recommended. The ultimate key to survival is maintaining a sense of humour. Although written primarily for carers, this article will also be of interest to healthcare professionals involved in dementia care. A comprehensive list of relevant addresses and telephone numbers is included.
How to CiteHaughie A. (2004) “Surviving Dementia as a carer”, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Research and Practice. 1(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/mhldrp.2004.1167