When it comes to providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed and stressed by all of the added responsibilities that come with caregiving. Providing care can take a significant toll on the physical and emotional well-being of the caregiver and the entire family, as well.
Caregivers must remember to take care of themselves. Being aware one’s own needs can help the caregiver be more patient, compassionate and provide the type of care he or she wants to provide. Many caregivers often find that when they take time to nurture their own needs, caring for someone with memory challenges can be fulfilling.
Taking care of one’s self starts with taking time to live one’s own life. Save time to temporarily set aside caregiving responsibilities, do enjoyable things and don’t feel guilty. It’s not only okay to take care of yourself, it’s imperative.
Caregiving places new demands on life that others may not understand. It’s okay to set limits and say no to requests that may drain energy rather than restore it. It’s also okay to accept offers for help from friends and family.
Look to the community for support. Join a support group. Nurture mind and body. Live a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly. All of these things can go a long way in boosting confidence about caregiving abilities.
Unfortunately, it is the nature of Alzheimer’s disease to progressively get worse and many caregivers find they can no longer provide care alone – no matter how well they’ve taken care of themselves. Once again, it’s okay to ask for help. There are several options to consider for extending at-home care including:
In-home help – can range from a few hours a week to daily help depending on needs.
Day programs or adult day care – offer a variety of stimulating activities and socialization opportunities.
Respite care – short-term care where a loved one stays in a facility temporarily giving the caregiver a chance to rest and refresh.
As the disease continues to progress and the health and safety of either the caregiver or the person with Alzheimer’s is compromised, it’s probably time to consider a move. Caregivers should never feel that moving their loved one to a memory care community is a sign of weakness. In fact, many find their loved ones enjoy a more engaging and fulfilling lifestyle at specialized memory care communities because they are specially designed and staffed to benefit those with memory decline.
About the Author:
Terry Kelly Holm
Executive Director of Memory Care and Assisted Living Services
The Atwater at McLean www.mcleanmemorycare.org