5 Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers to Stay Healthy

Taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for a loved one


- Posted on Feb 13, 2019

5 Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers to Stay Healthy

This article is based on information provided by Home Instead Senior Care.

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, it is natural to want to pour your heart and soul, not to mention the lion’s share of your time, into helping them. Caregiving is rooted in love, especially when it comes to aging parents. When these are the very people who have taught us about selflessness and sacrifice, we as adults want to return the favor.

This sense of devotion comes from the best place in you, but your health and well-being can suffer when you consistently disregard your own needs while taking care of your loved one. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better able to take care of others. 

Caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to report higher levels of burden and stress than other caregivers due to the cognitive and physical limitations experienced by those they care for, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.  And, a word of caution: a study from the National Alliance for Caregiving (PDF 2.6 MB) found that as care recipients’ dementias get worse, the health of their caregivers tended to diminish significantly as well.

You should recharge mentally, physically and emotionally. Making sure you do so can  help you as well as your loved one.

1. Ask for Help When You Need It

If you feel stressed to the limit, drained or overburdened, don’t let guilt or pride stand in the way reaching out for help. Call on a sibling or other family member. Two heads are better than one, and together you may come up with answers you hadn’t thought of on your own. Someone may be willing to fill in regularly so that you can take a much-needed break. Or maybe you’ll decide to hire outside help. In-home senior care agencies like Home Instead Senior Care pecialize in finding just the right caregiver to match your loved one’s needs, interests and personality. They can provide care for just a few hours per week or as much as 24/7 care. You’ll find peace of mind when you can take a break from caregiving and attend to your own needs knowing your loved one is with a well-trained, trusted caregiver.

2. Get the Information You Need 

Knowledge is power when it comes to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Arming yourself with information will reduce worry and stress while boosting your confidence and ability to take control of your situation.

3. Search Out People to Lean On

You may join a caregiver support group in your community, take part in an online community for Alzheimer’s caregivers, or just find a good friend willing to listen.Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is one of the hardest jobs out there, so it may help to have a shoulder on which to cry. People who understand the journey can boost your morale and allow you to speak honestly and openly, without venting to your family

4. Tend to Your Own Needs

It is important to take care of yourself, no matter how difficult it may seem.

  • You should not skip or put off your own doctor appointments
  • Take time for yourself everyday to do something youwant to do
  • Listen to your body and give it what it needs—rest, exercise, a chance to cry, a nice massage, healthier food, a doctor’s check-up, etc.

While you will inevitably still make some personal sacrifices, try to limit them to the ones you feel are most important. Keep your stress levels in check by taking the Caregiver StressMeter assessment and learn what you need to do to maintain your own health and spirits.

5. Look for the Positive

Negativity wears on you, so stay as positive as possible. An upbeat mood and outlook will help keep you energized. Make a point each day to note the things that went well, focus on what your loved one can do rather than dwelling on the difficulties, and don’t hesitate to break out your sense of humor! Never underestimate the power of a good, hearty laugh to ease tension and melt away stress. 

It is not just okay to take personal time for yourself while caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is essential. Even if you feel like you’re giving all that you have to this experience, reward yourself today with something that makes you happy. One small step will start you on the road toward becoming a more fulfilled and effective caretaker.

 

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