DAYTON — As a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be easy to forget to care for yourself. It might be difficult to get a break, or you might feel guilty for needing one.
Practicing self-care actually gives you energy and resources to help your loved one.
So here are some suggestions on how to care for yourself while being a caregiver.
Understand the disease first
Educate yourself, for example through materials on alz.org or by attending an educational program offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, so you can better understand the behaviors your loved one exhibits and determine if they may be caused by the disease.
Find emotional support
Building emotional support is crucial. You do not have to deal with this devastating disease by yourself. Talk to family and friends or get involved with one of the support groups organized by the Alzheimer’s Association. It is natural to feel a range of emotions, and support groups can make you feel less alone.
Take a break from caregiving
Taking a break every now and then is important for both your emotional and physical health. Respite care allows you to recharge, take time for yourself, or run errands you’ve been putting off. Ask friends to spend time with your loved one or look into adult day centers and residential facilities. The Alzheimer’s Association can help you find resources in your area.
Indulge in small treats
Find a quiet spot and close your eyes for five minutes, listen to an uplifting song, or work on a crossword puzzle for ten minutes. A short break just for yourself every day can work wonders.
Caregiving is often difficult and exhausting and coping with the changes in your loved one is heart-breaking. There is no one right way to give care. When you falter, dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes.