Most family members who become dementia care partners do so out of necessity rather than choice. They are thrown into the deep end with no training, little knowledge and few skills.
And, as we live longer, the number of people who are drafted into care partnering roles is only going to increase because age is the biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia.
How can one prepare oneself to potentially become a dementia care partner?
I don’t think there’s a formula that works for everyone because everyone’s life experience is different (although there are similarities and commonalities of course!). However, I think the best preparation in all cases is to practice good life skills and habits that will serve us no matter what challenges we face. When we practice these skills, we are better equipped to live more joyful lives whether that includes being a dementia care partner or not.
Below are seven life skills I think are especially important for dementia care partners, and which may help anyone to prepare for that role, as well as to live a better life overall.
- Having an open mind
- Having an open heart
- Looking for opportunities to create joy and happiness
- Experiencing your feelings
- Finding ways to reframe “negative situations”
- Focussing on capacity (home in on what CAN be done, not on what can’t)
- Grieving and letting go of losses