It just dawned on me that I have a new job. I am a full-time caregiver for a person with dementia. The pay is nil and career advancement is limited, but I signed up for it voluntarily long ago. Regardless of how tired or frustrated I am, I must still do my duties to the best of my ability. Of course, my ability to be compassionate varies with my level of energy and patience, and it is not a job in which I excel on some days.
In my dealings with dementia sufferers (DS), I have also dealt with professional caregivers…you know, the ones who do get paid. Some are calm, compassionate and worth every penny; others just sit lump-like in the same room with a DS accomplishing very little in the way of care or compassion. As I learn more about the skills needed to be a DS caregiver and how widespread dementia is now and will become in the near future, I am anxious for both the DS and the caregiver.
There is no cut-and-dried training to be a DS caregiver because there are too many variables. The cause of the dementia, the age of the DS and caregiver, the health of the caregiver, the personality of both DS and caregiver, the financial situation, etc. There is no end to the variations of this job and therefore, no efficient training program. I want to be trained. I want specifics. I want a coping pill that won’t make me sleepy or fat. I think what I really want is a new job, but knowing what it would take for me to become unemployed is dismaying and heartbreaking.