If you care for a family member with dementia, neglecting your own health and well being will not do you any good. Dementia care is daunting, and family caregivers of people with dementia can experience distress or depression, often causing their own health to decline. As a caregiver, you need to have the right attitude whether you care for a parent or senior loved one with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, or are an assisted living care professional approaching your role. Educating yourself about dementia and maintaining a positive but realistic attitude is the key to maintaining an element of control as a caregiver. The job of a caregiver to someone with dementia can be an emotional rollercoaster and having the right attitude is crucial to success, which will not only take the sting out of surprising challenges, but also help in improve the care you provide.
Caregiving can become all-consuming. With your loved one’s cognitive, physical, and functional abilities diminishing over time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and neglect your own health, putting you at increased risk for significant health problems, and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or burnout. Nearly every Alzheimer’s or dementia caregiver experiences sadness, loneliness and exhaustion at some point. Seeking help and support along the way is essential.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be physically taxing, especially when that someone is a loved one, particularly in later stages of the disease when the person needs more and more help with day-to-day functioning. Doing everything you can to make sure that your loved one is safe and comfortable goes beyond being stressful, it can be depleting. The belief that it’s part of culture for caregiving to happen at home makes people more likely to avoid or delay seeking caregiving help or formal care.
Here’s a guide to help you prepare for the caregiving road ahead and get the help you need:
Take Breaks– Taking a break in the form of hanging out with friends, going to movies, the gym, a park, or out to dinner will take your mind off of your responsibilities, which will rejuvenate your energy and your soul letting you come back and resume your caregiving tasks with a fresher perspective, and you feel less frustrated in the daily activities. Also, make an effort to take deep breaths, listen to uplifting music and find the humor in things in order to smoothly get through demanding days.
Exercise– Walking, dancing, swimming, riding a bike- any form of physical activity is good, it will help you release and rejuvenate.
Take Care Of Your Health– Schedule routine health check-ups, get adequate sleep, eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, say “no” to obligations when you need to, keep up with the hobbies and interests that you love, laugh- to ensure your physical and mental well-being.
Ask For Help– It’s advisable that you reach out to your friends and family if the stress of caretaking is taking a toll on your health. It can give a huge boost to your mood and energy, prevent stress, and decrease burnout. In addition to family members helping the loved one, consider an assisted living facility which will allow the family-members take a much-needed break.
Assisted facilities like Senior Sanctuary of Anthem in Phoenix, AZ have already well-trained caregivers, who know how to react and respond to different situations and what to do in case of an emergency. In addition, they are up to date on the latest technology and responsibilities, and specialized memory care situation handling.