Caring for someone with dementia may require your intense vigilance as a caregiver, but there is much you can do to release your own stress.
- Posted on Jun 14, 2019
This article is based on information provided by Home Instead Senior Care.
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you may be lying awake nights, spinning thoughts about the future or imagining what could happen if you were to leave your loved one unattended. You may be exhausted simply from handling the day-to-day needs of your loved one. Taking care of someone with dementia is one of the most stressful caregiving experiences anyone can face. It is not unusual for caregivers who are dealing with wandering and other associated behaviors, for instance, to leave their jobs or avoid socializing in order to stay home.
Barb did all that she could as her husband’s caregiver to keep him at home. Family, including grandchildren, and friends pitched in to help…at first. After a few months, they burned out. So did Barb. “My job was on the line and, one day, I even nodded off at a red light. I guess three hours of sleep followed by eight hours of work was not good for me.”
As challenging as your situation may be, it is important to attend to your own needs, both for your own sake and that of your loved one. There are a number of things you can do to look after yourself as a caregiver. Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, offers the following strategies for you to consider:
1. Write your feelings in a journal. Putting down your thoughts about what is happening can help you to get more in touch with your emotions.
2. Meet up with a friend to talk things out. Often, a conversation with someone who knows and loves us can help us figure out what we are feeling.
3. Reach out to a support group. Look to your local faith community or the Alzheimer’s Association’s Community Resource Finder to connect with others who are going through the same thing. Consider joining the Remember for Alzheimer’s Facebook page of more than 270,000 followers who are struggling with many of these same issues.
4. Accept offers of assistance. It’s okay to say yes when people extend a helping hand, whether it’s someone wanting to make dinner or give you carpool assistance.
5. Ask for help when you need it. If you’re confronting a difficult task, consider asking someone else to take it over. Call your local Alzheimer’s Association and Home Instead Senior Care office for more information about how these organizations could assist you. The Alzheimer’s Association has a free 24/7 help line with master-level clinicians to talk with family members who are over-burdened. Call 1-800-272-3900 if you need assistance.
6. Give yourself a break. Respite care, or a break, is not just a “nice” thing. It’s a necessity when caring for someone with dementia. Learn more about the Hilarity for Charity® grant program and how to apply for a grant. Or contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office, Alzheimer’s Association chapter or Area Agency on Aging for additional resources and support.
7. Carve out time for mini-vacations. Draw up a list of things you enjoy doing such as reading, playing music, listening to a podcast, taking a walk or having coffee with a friend. Then take one or two 15-minute mini-breaks each day to do something on your list.
8. Make self-care a habit. Good self-care contributes to emotional well-being and helps better manage stress and the emotions that can go along with caregiving.
9. Practice letting go. Ask yourself if something is really important – if it matters. Doing that will likely keep you from getting upset about relatively inconsequential things.