The caregiving journey for Alzheimer’s can be long and emotional. As your loved elder starts losing one ability after another, you may face a tough test that will challenge your patience, resilience, and stamina.
As every patient’s Alzheimer’s experience is unique, the journey of each caregiver is also different. As your loved one’s skills begin to erode and his memories begin to vanish, you may go through a gamut of emotions ranging from anxiety to anger to sorrow and depression.
As the disease progresses, your loved one may lose the ability to express his gratitude or even his awareness of your selfless caregiving, which can add to the frustration.
The responsibility of caregiving can be so all-consuming that it can lead to neglect of your mental and physical well-being. However, since your loved ones depend upon you, taking care of yourself should become your top priority.
What every caregiver should do
- Use techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercise to relieve stress
- Try to delegate some work to others
- Take a break when stress becomes overbearing
- Try to cultivate some hobby like gardening in your spare time
- Listen to soothing music
- Get connected with other caregivers so that you don’t feel isolated and helpless
- Take your pet for a walk, if you have one
Reach out for help
- Designate duties to family members so that they can share your load
- Accept help from friends and family members
- Delegate routine tasks like grocery shopping to spend more time with your elder
- Connect with others who have faced the same challenges
Focus on health
- Eat balanced meals at regular times
- Workout regularly
- Go for a walk; it relieves stress
- Sleep well
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Take up a hobby or learn a new skill
- Go for regular check-ups and blood tests
However strong you are, it is natural that you can fall prey to depression and burnout at times because caregiving for Alzheimer’s is a long journey. It may be disheartening because, despite your best efforts, your loved one’s symptoms may progressively worsen.
Why should you take of yourself?
Your dementia-affected loved one depends on you and will grow more and more dependent with time. You can take care of them properly only if you are hale and hearty yourself. Hence self-care is extremely important for a caregiver. Just as in a low-pressure situation on an airplane, the oxygen mask must be worn by yourself first before helping anyone else. Only when you take care of yourself; can you take care of your loved one.