Caring for Yourself
When it comes to Alzheimer's, "caregiving" doesn't only mean taking care of someone suffering from the disease. It's important to know that you have to take care of yourself, too. Being aware of your own needs, physically and emotionally, can help you be the type of caregiver you want to be.
It's completely understandable if you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the added responsibilities you are now facing. Caregiving can take a significant toll on the physical and emotional well-being of the entire family.
That's why caregivers count, too. If you take the time to nurture your own needs, you may find that looking after someone with Alzheimer's disease can be fulfilling.
Here are some things to think about when trying to care for yourself:
Many caregivers often withdraw from friends, family, and community because they feel alone, thinking no one understands. But there are many ways in which you can get the support you need, like joining a support group (where you can learn from others' experiences and share your own), reading a book about caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, and making time for others in your life.
Taking care of your own needs is an important part of staying physically and emotionally healthy. While caring for another is one aspect of your life, it doesn't have to be your entire life. Don't feel guilty if you need to set caregiving responsibilities aside temporarily to care for yourself.
Caregiving places new demands on your life that others may not understand. It's okay to say no to those requests that may drain your energy rather than restore it. And it's also okay to say yes to offers for help from friends and family. Don't forget that as a caregiver, you need to be cared for, too.
Nurture Your Body
Not getting enough sleep is a major cause of stress and illness among caregivers. You may experience times of irritability, anger, and exhaustion, which can be compounded by lack of sleep. Remember that you can't provide care for a loved one if you don't first care for yourself.
Nurture Your Mind
Take breaks as you need them. Also, although it may be difficult, it is helpful to confront family conflicts that pertain to providing care. Acknowledge loss and grief, and maintain connections with others, including family and friends, to help keep your spirits high while keeping things in perspective.
Additionally, living a healthy lifestyle — including a healthy diet and regular exercise — can help you look and feel better about yourself which, in turn, may help to boost your own confidence about your caregiving abilities.