According to the National Institute on Aging, taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you take time for yourself—and ask for help when (or before) you need it!
If you’ve ever traveled by airplane, you know the flight attendant’s safety instructions always say to place your oxygen mask on yourself before placing one on your travel companion. And you’ve probably felt a twinge of selfishness at the thought. But there’s a good reason for this: It’s because, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you significantly reduce your chances of being able to save either of you.
The same is true of caring for a loved one with dementia: If you don’t allow yourself to stop and catch your breath, you’ll both be headed for a tailspin. Being a caregiver is a constant stressor. Stopping to take some “me time” isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity.
Appreciate the magnitude of the stress you’re under.
Caregivers who provide substantial care to a loved one with memory care or assisted living needs—involvement with health care activities, care coordination and medication management—are more likely to develop physical and emotional health problems themselves, according to a National Health and Aging Trends Study.
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Make sure you are making time for yourself, eating healthy foods and being active. Consider joining a caregiver support group to relieve your sense of isolation.
Caregiving is not easy for anyone—not for the caregiver and not for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments for everyone. What’s more, as your loved one moves through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, caregiving will likely become even harder.
Remind yourself that it’s OK to ask for help.
You may feel self-doubt or guilt that what you’re doing isn’t enough. You might also feel resentment that your free time has been consumed by providing care. These are all perfectly normal emotions in your situation.
You may come to the realization that you can no longer care for your loved one by yourself and need to enlist respite or residential care. Open yourself up to the possibility that your loved one may actually benefit from being part of an entire, full-service memory care community, filled with professional caregivers and a lifestyle filled with mentally stimulating, purposeful experiences.
You’re likely to discover that you each quickly feel relief from stress, reconnect with your past selves and get second chances at fulfillment that you thought were lost forever.
For More Information on Support for Caregivers contact us at 571-266-1748 or go to TheArtisWay.com/FairfaxDigital.