People say, "Caring for a loved one with progressive dementia is like caring for a child."
There are many similarities, such as the need to prepare their food, help them get into the car and explain things over and over, to name just a few. But the defining aspects of the tasks are different.
While protecting children from danger, you are also teaching them to recognize and respond to signs of danger. You expect them to learn, grow and eventually do this for themselves.
In contrast, protecting loved ones with dementia is a task that is added to an ever-growing list of things they can no longer do for themselves.
While caring for children, you feel hope that today is joyous, love-filled or meaningful AND that your efforts will have a positive impact on the adults these children become -- the choices they will make, the fortitude with which they'll overcome challenges, and the relationships they will develop. You expect children to assume more and more responsibility for the direction and quality of their life.
In contrast, in the care of elderly loved ones with dementia, hopes revolve around making them comfortable today; preserving their dignity today; setting the stage for what joys are still possible today. Over time, the caregiver assumes more and more of the responsibility for the quality of their loved ones' life.
For me, caring for an elderly loved one with dementia is not like caring for a child. It is like caring for a loved one with dementia.