15 qualities dementia care partners need to survive

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Being a dementia care partner to my mother who lived with Alzheimer disease was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was also one of the most rewarding. Like millions of others worldwide, I was drafted into the role knowing nothing about dementia or even about being a carer. I learned a lot over 10 years.

Here are 15 essential qualities (in no particular order), that I feel a care partner must either possess initially or acquire during the process of caregiving in order to survive being a care partner for any length of time:

  1. Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one
  2. Determination: firmness of purpose; resoluteness
  3. Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others
  4. Flexibility: the quality of bending easily without breaking
  5. Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas
  6. Stubbornness: dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position
  7. Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate
  8. Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties (see Huddol video below)
  9. Stamina: the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort
  10. Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
  11. Strength: the capacity to withstand great force or pressure
  12. Energy: the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity
  13. Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation
  14. Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering
  15. Guts: toughness of character

Some of these may seem contradictory, but I feel they are in fact complementary. What do you think? Which might you “delete?” What might you add?

These qualities are powerfully captured in a short video by recently launched caregiver community platform Huddol:

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4 Comments

  1. Kate is abdolutely right. Humor is vital!

    Also important for me was forgiving. My Mom’s personality didn’t turn mean, as some do … But my siblings and their children did. Whether it’s the care recipient, other family, or YOURSELF, you need forgiveness to let go of the heartbreak of loss, the pain of insults or rejections and the regret of mistakes you made. Remember that we are all human and overall the care given outweighs any impatience, anger or other emotions or actions. Guilt is NOT an option. Sending love & prayers for all.

  2. The only thing I would add to this list is a sense of humour! It pulled me away from the abyss of despair many times over the seven years I spent caring for my parents, both of whom had Alzheimer disease.

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