Dementia and Alzheimer’s: As a Family Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself Along with Your Loved One

Taking care of a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s can be a long, emotionally and physically taxing journey. It is a bit like running a 26 mile marathon as a adult while you have never run more than a high school 100m race – and that too where each mile is less predictable and more difficult than the previous one. The good thing is that you are not alone. Over 16 million people in the US are caring for someone in their family with this condition.

For most people, caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s or Dementia can be a very daunting and overwhelming task – one that they are least prepared or qualified for. As you look to strike a balance with a hybrid model of professional caregivers from a company like Care Mountain, and yourself or others as family based caregivers, we can help you learn and adapt to a complex world for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia – caregiving for such clients can be all-consuming and you can get disheartened, depressed, and even neglect your own well-being. Working as closely and as much as we do with clients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s, we see this all the time especially when family members are also doubling up as caregivers part time.

Here’s how you need to take care of yourself, as you care for your loved one:

 

First, Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself means paying attention to your emotional and physical health and is crucial if you’re going to be an effective caregiver to your loved one with Dementia and Alzheimer’s . It can include anything from asking for help and taking a break, to getting professional study content or joining a support group. Here are 5 simple, yet highly effective ways you can achieve this:

  1. Take daily breaks
  2. Eat at least 3 healthy meals a day. Exercise. Clear your brain and get your heart pumping.
  3. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed
  4. Join a local or online caregiver’s support group.
  5. Visit friends or allow yourself social visits.

Second, Ask for help

As a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is too easy to feel like you’re already not doing enough. This makes it harder for you to ask for help, even when you truly are exhausted, especially on the inside. Unfortunately, when you are not well rested, you can’t take care of your loved one either, which is why the second approach is to ask for help. Here are some tips:

  1. Ask for specific help from friends and family, such as with making a meal or cleaning the house.
  2. If you need to be somewhere outside of your loved one’s care, call a trusted adult day care or home health care service. We have many families that combine professional and family caregivers in a systematic way to help themselves manage caring for their loved ones.
  3. Join an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group, where you can share your experiences and get support. If you don’t know where to find one, we highly recommend the North Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. We have been partners with them for a long time and believe this is an incredibly enriching organization for your loved one, and both professional and family based caregivers.

Third, plan, anticipate and become more effective 

As you go about taking care of yourself and your loved one, you should also:

  1. Remember that you will feel sad from time to time. It is better to expect this and be aware rather than feel confused and ineffective versus a condition that takes a toll on both the patient and the caregiver.
  2. Remember that as the Alzheimer’s condition progresses, you will feel even more hopeless and powerless as a caregiver. Know this, and anticipate this. Remember your job is to do your absolute best everyday knowing fully well that it will still fall short given the progressive nature of the condition. And taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is actually in the best interest of everyone, including your loved one
  3. Plan to end your day with some sort of a break from caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s . Before you go to bed, if you can take even 30 minutes to either rest, have some alone time, listen to music or something that you (and you alone) like to do, it will help tremendously in getting you restful and deep sleep and last the marathon of caregiving for a long time to come.

Do you live in Dallas Fort Worth area? 

Care Mountain provides award-winning in-home care. We are a high quality in home care provider with 16 years of experience providing personalized care for 3,000+ DFW families. We have high quality, experienced caregivers available to support you and your loved ones care needs. 

Give us a call to discuss your in home care needs. 

November 13, 2021

Dementia and Alzheimer’s: As a Family Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself Along with Your Loved One

This article offers key pointers to successfully plan to be an effective family based caregiver for a loved one with Dementia and Alzheimer’s