Caregivers need support when dealing with dementia

It takes a village to care for someone with dementia, but all too often, that's not the case.

Typically, a spouse is the primary caregiver for an elderly partner with some sort of cognitive impairment. That can cause both physical and mental problems for the caregiver.

"People don't want to be a burden on others, they don't want to bother their adult kids who have their own families and work that they're dealing with," said Dr. Bryan Woodruff,a neurologist with the Mayo Clinic."Sometimes, that reluctance to get more help is a problem because then the caregiver is stressed, the spouse who has the memory problem knows they're stressed, and they can't really do much about it. So, it ends up creating a negative environment."

If there's a team approach, if the whole family pitches in early in the process, Dr. Woodruff says, it can help prevent some of the negative consequences.

It's also critical to take advantage of support groups and community resources. The Alzheimer's Association of Western Washington can point you in the right direction.