“My father had dementia and I was his caregiver. Here’s what I wish I had known”

When Cynthia Dearborn became her 75-year-old father’s caregiver, she knew little about what lay ahead. Two decades on, she shares the insights that helped her help him

In 2007, I was suddenly plunged into the role of caregiver for my then 75-year-old father, who had vascular dementia. His short-term memory was severely impaired, as were his judgment and reasoning skills. At the outset, I knew very little about dementia and next to nothing about caregiving, and fumbled my way through one challenge after another. With experience, I grew more competent and confident.

While everyone’s situation is different, and every individual unique, here are six insights that helped me help my father.

Keep in mind that many people lack a practical understanding of dementia

My stepmother never could understand, or accept, that there were things her husband could no longer do. She’d get frustrated and angry with him for forgetting things and misplacing items. When she fell gravely ill, her son was upset that my father expressed no sympathy, though my father lacked the cognitive capacity to grasp that his wife was sick. To my dismay, this misunderstanding led to a major family rift.

Read more:  The Guardian – My father had dementia and I was his caregiver. Here’s what I wish I had known