When dealing with the changes and challenges that come part and parcel with her mother’s dementia, care partner Katrina Prescott has found that acceptance is the key to self-preservation.
November 14, 2021
Katrina Prescott didn’t sign up to be a care partner for her mom, Kathryn Love, who was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia eight years ago at the age of 62. Like many others who find themselves supporting parents, spouses or other loved ones living with dementia, Prescott fell into the care partner role as her mom’s condition worsened.
It became overwhelming.
“You don’t really have a lot of time to prepare,” says Prescott, 43. “And you’re probably getting very limited support from the system. So, it’s cooking, it’s cleaning, it’s helping that person with their activities of daily living. You’re the entertainment, you’re everything for this person — it’s very isolating.”
Prescott is far from alone. There are an estimated 419,000 Canadians over 65 currently living with dementia, and that number is expected to double by 2030.It’s a low-ball figure that doesn’t take into account the early-onset cohort who, like Kathryn Love, are diagnosed before they reach the official age of retirement.
There’s at least one care partner for every person diagnosed with dementia, and that number swells to nearly eight million caregivers — or almost one in five Canadians — when you factor in the circle of family, friends and paid workers that together form a support network for those living with dementia.
Being a care partner exacts a heavy toll. Like Prescott, most are thrust into the role with zero training and little knowledge of dementia.
As their loved one deteriorates, they can struggle with grief, loneliness and exhaustion, all of which impacts their physical and mental health.
“For Prescott, the game-changer in finding some relief in her role as a caregiver was simply letting go.”
In fact, 60 percent of caregivers show signs of clinical depression, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, an organization that provides services to family caregivers of adults with physical and cognitive impairments such as dementia.
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