Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia impacts every aspect of your daily life. As an Alzheimer’s patient loses one ability after another, a caregiver faces tests of stamina, problem-solving, and resiliency. Maintaining your emotional and physical fitness is crucial, not just for you, but also for the person you’re caring for. Preparing yourself, understanding your loved one’s experience, and seeking support from others can help you succeed on the caregiving journey.
Caregiving can become all-consuming. As your loved one’s cognitive, physical, and functional abilities diminish over a period of years, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and neglect your own health and well-being. Nearly all Alzheimer’s or dementia caregivers will at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury for caregivers; it’s a necessity.
Just as each person with Alzheimer’s disease progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can help make the caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging. Learning all you can about what is happening and what to expect on the Alzheimer’s journey will not only help your loved one but is also the first step towards protecting your own mental and physical health.
Here are Seven Strategies to Take Care of Yourself:
- Ask for help
Create a resource list of those who can help such as family members, friends and meet new friends at support groups and educational classes.
- Learn or update caregiving skills
Classes through local organizations are often free and sometimes offer adult daycare during the class.
- Make use of available resources
Check websites for the Alzheimer’s Association and organizations for the aging for resource lists including professional caregivers who can give you a short-term break. Upload and access the Alzheimer’s Association Science Hub app. It is a free app that delivers the latest news, information, and expert assessments about Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Attend free workshops for families and caregivers hosted by select Meridian Senior Living communities to get support and learn strategies to cope with the challenges Alzheimer’s caregiving presents.
- Plan for your own care
Write it down in your daily planner treat and it with the same priority you would a physician’s appointment for your loved one. Plan a movie, dinner with a friend, a weekly tee time if you golf, garden, or exercise. Take time for yourself.
- Learn how to manage stress
Caregiving for a loved one with dementia can be one of the most stressful tasks you’ll undertake in life. To combat this stress, you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response through techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, or yoga. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce the stress of caregiving and boost your mood and energy levels.
- Eat nutritious meals
A healthy diet is important for both of you. Take the time to make sure you are eating nutrient-rich foods.
- Get quality sleep
Plan ahead of time to ensure you are getting the rest you need. As adults we are not typically planning for rest periods; however, caregivers must get enough sleep for your own health and to provide patient and thoughtful care to your loved one. The task is monumental.
Caregiving can be both rewarding and overwhelming. With all the resources available, rest assured you are not alone and there is relief within reach.
Want to learn more about ways you can take care of yourself while taking care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s? Contact us today. We’re here for you.