Self-Care for Caregivers
Tips to Help You Succeed on a Care-Giving Journey for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease
Discovering that a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a difficult fact to have to come to terms with. Many people choose to offer their own services to care for and support their loved one during the emotional and stressful journey. There is currently no cure for this disease and it can be very difficult to see the person you loved slowly disappear before your eyes.
It is essential to maintain your own mental and physical health during this time to ensure you can provide the best quality care and enjoy the remaining time you have together. The following tips will help you succeed in your journey:
Find out as much as you can about Alzheimer’s
The more you know about Alzheimer’s Disease the better you will be able to understand what your loved one is going through and how you can best help them. Taking time, early in the care process will not affect the quality of care you can offer but it will help you to prepare for the future.
While your loved one is in the early stages of the disease it is essential to talk to them and understand their opinions. Together you can decide the best care path to follow and this will help in the more difficult later stages.
Become a competent caregiver
No matter how much you love the person, offering a care giving service may be a new and scary experience. Again, while your loved one is in the early stages of the disease, you should attend a care giving course. This will update your skills and provide you with the opportunity to meet others in the same situation. There support may be invaluable to you.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for assistance
It is not possible to provide all the health care your loved one will need, particularly if you have your own family, a job and your own commitments to look after. You also will have a specific skill set.
Never be afraid to ask others to help, family members may be better at handling the finances while you offer the car. There are also dedicated agencies which can assist with the care; leaving you free to sort other details, and enjoy some quality time with your loved one.
There are an abundance of resources available which can and should be used to assist you and your loved one.
Learn to cope with stress
No matter how well you plan it and even if you enlist the help of others it will be a stressful journey. It is essential to periodically take time out for yourself to de-stress.
Step away from everything with a little quality time; this can be exercising, having a coffee with friends or simply exercising. Anything that relaxes your mind will enable you to provide better care. It is essential to care for yourself and have regular check-ups; if you make yourself ill you will be unable to offer any care!
Know the signs of burn Out
It is essential to recognize the following signs that you are becoming burnt out. This means you are taking on too much and not looking after your own needs.
If you have any of the following symptoms then stop what you are doing, enlist help and take care of your own needs; your loved one would not want you to get sick on their account:
- Denying the effects of the disease on your loved one.
- Becoming angry at your loved one because they have Alzheimer’s.
- Withdrawing from your social connections.
- Excess anxiety regarding the future.
- Becoming depressed
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Inability to sleep properly, leading to exhaustion and irritability.
- Lack of ability to concentrate. Not being able to remember the last time you felt good.
Look after your own needs so that you can offer the best care possible to your loved one; and enjoy your time with them. Think of all the good moments you’ve shared together, and talk about them. Do your best to cheer them up, and always talk calmly and patiently with them.