Peter’s story: A caregivers experience with BPSD
It is what is what it is – not what it should be.
Peter’s wife was first showed signs of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in her late 50’s. Within a very short span of time her illness progressed and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Peter chose to care for his wife in their home, but her illness advanced so quickly that despite his best efforts to keep her safe, her behaviour became increasingly more difficult to manage. In a span of less than four years she developed a combination of behaviours and psychological symptoms that, over time, changed to aggression.
Once a strong, vibrant, creative, active working woman, loving wife and mother of two, the disease took its toll on her. Peter soon faced the difficult decision of admitting his wife to a specialized behavioural unit where a team of trained healthcare professionals was able to stabilize her aggressive behaviour.
Peter’s wife now resides in a specialized behavioural transition unit. Although she is only in her mid 60’s, Peter will next face the final stage of what has already been a heartbreaking journey.
Looking after himself
In Peter’s situation, his wife’s health declined very rapidly. As he says, “The minute I thought I had a handle on the situation, it would change.” He admits this journey had an impact on him physically, mentally and emotionally.
Peter did his best to follow the advice he received from social workers and health professionals who all emphasized the importance of looking after his own health first in order to have the strength and ability to properly care for his wife. Doing everything he could to keep depression and burnout at bay, Peter willingly:
- Learned all he could about his wife’s illness.
- Enrolled in on-line courses for caregivers of dementia patients.
- Enrolled his wife in creative and social activities.
- Spoke one-on-one with a psychologist.
- Attended group therapy.
- Engaged the help of caregivers and personal support workers (PSW’s).
- Built elaborate schedules and encouraged everyone who knew his wife to participate in her care.
- Scheduled regular free time for himself to exercise, rest or spend time with friends.
Peter’s candidness in the following videos helps emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself, because watching and caring for someone you love as they change and succumb to this illness is physically and emotionally draining.