The most typical caregiver of someone with dementia is*:
- Non-hispanic caucasian
- 50- 60 years old
- Married/in a long-term relationship
- Works 35 hours a week in a job outside of caregiving
- Lives in same region as PLWD (person living with dementia)
- Is caregiver for a parent
- Has spent 4+years as a caregiver
- Is concerned with own health deterioration since becoming a caregiver
- Communicates with doctors of PLWD and monitors health changes
*All of the following attributes or qualities were seen in over 50% of those surveyed in the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report. https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2017-facts-and-figures.pdf
I interviewed someone who matches all of the above except she works 60+ hours a week (outside of caregiving) and describes herself as "married to her horse."
- She didn't want to take on this role, it was a complete life-change that she didn't ask for, and felt forced into.
- She wishes it would end and her mother (PLWD) would die, but she's afraid she won't, at least no time soon.
- She doesn't feel that she has purpose as a caregiver, she thinks PLWD is being "warehoused" in the skilled nursing facility.
- She prefers activities that are more scripted and require less improvisation/energy from her. (i.e. going out for manicures vs. dinner)
- She wishes she had more activities or ideas for things they can do together that bring moments of joy.
- She believes all she can provide is security and joy.
- She only sought therapy, and took some time for self-care, after she began having panic attacks.
- She feels guilty for many of her feelings and actions involving her mother.
- She is terrified (she would prefer to be euthanized) that she will experience the same memory loss and dementia in 10-15 years.
- She is constantly stressed by a seeming onslaught of PLWD related-issues that surface, settle, only for something new to come up.
- She feels overwhelming feelings of debt and responsibility
- She experiences some moments of joy, but no hope.
- She wishes she (or someone) could give her license to back off, to focus on herself and less on her mother.