By Jennifer McDougall
You’re not alone. As a caregiver, you have a lot to juggle: managing your loved one’s care, finances, estate planning, dealing with doctors and other medical professionals, making sure you have time for yourself and the list goes on. If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! You’re not alone in feeling like you need some self-care. Many people find themselves stuck in the caregiver role because their family members can’t take care of them anymore due to dementia or another serious illness. We must take care of ourselves, too—the more rested and well-nourished we are mentally and physically, the better we’ll care for our loved ones during this difficult time.
Understand that you’re not alone and that feeling bad is okay.
You’re not alone. In fact, there are a lot of people like you who have been in your shoes and have felt the same way. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about the situation because it’s okay to be upset sometimes. It’s not a sign of weakness if you admit that things are hard at times—in fact, it can be liberating because then you know that others feel the same way as well. Calling for support is not shameful either; it’s healthy and necessary for caregivers’ well-being.
Ask for help.
As a caregiver, you should never be afraid to ask for help. However, it is essential to remember that the person you are caring for is a human being who needs your attention and care. You cannot do it all alone. There will come a time when you need help from family and friends or even professionals to keep your loved one safe and happy while they can still enjoy life.
If you feel overwhelmed, consider reaching out to other caregivers as well: they may have advice on how best to care for loved ones (or themselves). A great resource is Caregiver Connections – because there’s strength in numbers!
Start finding time for yourself, even if it’s only in 10-minute increments.
- Take a break every now and again yourself: whether that means taking an evening off after work or spending time with friends who don’t know about dementia yet (or even just getting outside), make sure that your wellbeing isn’t neglected either. This will also give them space for their memory journey without constantly being reminded by others about what’s happened over recent weeks/months/years.
Take care of your physical health.
- Get enough sleep. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of caring for someone with dementia and neglect yourself.
- Eat well, but don’t deprive yourself of a treat or two.
- Exercise regularly by doing something you enjoy: walking, running, swimming, yoga—you name it.
- Take time for self-care (including getting enough rest) and relaxation activities such as taking a bath or reading a book without interruption. If you can afford it, hire someone else to assist with caregiving duties so that you can have more time for these things and friends and family—and even fun hobbies.
Make time to enjoy yourself every day – at least once a day, do something fun or relaxing. This could be taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, hanging out with friends, etc.
It’s okay to take time for yourself. It’s okay to relax and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.
It will be easier if you don’t feel bad about doing this, so make sure that you don’t have any negative beliefs about taking time out of your day or life for yourself.
Make time to spend with family and loved ones, who can be a huge source of motivation and help lower stress levels.
When caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed. The time spent alone can be challenging, so take advantage of the support that family and friends can offer you. Your loved ones will help you take your mind off of the stress that comes with caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. They can also help lessen feelings of isolation and loneliness by providing more social contact than just your visiting nurse or other caregiver appointments.
And if all else fails? Go grab a cup of coffee and bring someone along who loves you.
Keep tabs on your emotional health, and ensure you know the signs of depression or anxiety so you can manage them effectively.
It’s common for caregivers to experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming, and the anxiety that comes with it is stressful in itself. Therefore, it’s essential to know your emotional health to keep tabs on it and ensure you’re aware of any signs of depression or anxiety.
Different types of depression include major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), and bipolar disorder. In addition, there are several types of anxiety disorders, including social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have concerns about whether or not this applies to you, talk with a doctor immediately, They’ll work together to find the best course of treatment based on your needs and preferences—and they might even recommend some self-care tips.
Accept that you can’t do it all.
The first step in learning to care for yourself is accepting that you can’t do it all. The demands of caring for a loved one with dementia are often too much for one person, and when you realize that, it’s easier to let go and ask for help. No caregiver should ever feel guilty about asking others for assistance or admitting they need time away from their responsibilities.
Be realistic about what you can do, instead of trying to be everything to everyone—and remember: You can’t be a perfect caregiver! Caregivers are constantly learning new things as they progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia; learning how to care for themselves will make them better at caring for their loved ones.
There is no reason to feel guilty about caring for yourself as a caregiver.
It is okay to feel bad. Taking care of someone with dementia can be incredibly difficult, and it’s completely normal to have days when you feel overwhelmed, tired, and stressed out. If you’re struggling with your own emotions as a caregiver, there’s no shame in calling for help or needing support from family members or friends.
It’s also okay to take care of yourself as a caregiver. When we think about our loved ones, we often think about self-care, but caregivers need attention too! You need time off from the demands of caregiving every once in a while so that your mind can rest and refresh itself before dealing with another stressful day at home or work. You deserve this break; don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
You should also make sure that there are people around who can lend their hands occasionally when things get tough—there is nothing wrong with asking others for help during demanding times. Even if it’s just once every couple of weeks (or even once every month), letting go of some responsibilities so others can step up gives everyone more energy throughout the day—and isn’t that what we all want?
We hope you are now more prepared to care for yourself as a caregiver. It’s not easy being in this position, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and that self-care is crucial for your emotional wellbeing. Take some time today or tomorrow to implement at least one of the tips above, and then another the next day until they become part of your routine. Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do to support caregivers in their efforts.