As an Alzheimer's caregiver, it's common to focus so much on the person in your care that you neglect to take care of yourself.
However, taking care of yourself must become a priority, so that you can live healthily and happily and can give the best care to the person with Alzheimer's disease dementia.
One of the key things to watch out for is stress. Stress occurs as a result of too many pressures that demand too much of you. The stress of caregiving can be overwhelming when you feel you have too many responsibilities and not enough support. If you feel very guilty, resentful, sad, frightened, or just in over your head all the time, your stress level will be high. However, it is natural for Alzheimer's caregivers to experience these feelings from time to time.
If stress builds up without being managed, over time you may become depressed, ill, isolated and unable to provide care for the person with dementia or yourself. Alzheimer's caregivers are frequently told to take care of themselves, so think of ways you can incorporate some of the
following to comfort yourself: prayer or spiritual practice, talking with friends or relatives, exercise, hobbies, meditation, mindful breathing, yoga, walking and seeking professional help or counseling. It is important to get help and support from other family members. Find a way to get respite from caregiving before you reach the point when you feel your life is out of control.
Here are some common ways you can care for yourself:
- Find someone, a friend or counselor, who can listen and give you new ideas and perspective.
- Attend conferences and lectures about Alzheimer's disease or join a support group with other people who are going through the same thing.
- Hire more help or enlist more family involvement.
- Consider enrolling the person in your care in an adult day care program.
- Claim time for yourself and make sure you use it.