Tips for dementia caregivers
Very few people outside of the healthcare industry would have answered “caregiver,” when asked their dream career. It isn’t an option on the recommended career list or a career openly spoken about. Yet most caregivers serve out of love and respect. Few realize just how stressful caregiving is over time.
Caregivers must care for themselves, too. Here are some tips on how to get started:
Do not neglect your physical health
If you have been neglecting your physical health, there are some options that will help make things easier for you and your care recipient. Eat regularly, exercise, get enough sleep and schedule regular doctor’s visits. Setting aside just 15 minutes a day for yourself can be the start of a healthier, less stressful life.
Open communication is important
Raising a red flag when you start to feel overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it can be a sign of strength and knowing your own limitations. Communicating your feelings with your doctor may provide you with options for assistance that you may not have been aware of before. Communicate your needs to other family members.
Sharing the responsibility
Consider sharing some of the care responsibilities. Not only will this reduce your stress but it will give other family members the opportunity to serve and get to know their elder better.
Reduce your stress
The roles weren’t always reversed in your relationship with your loved one. Chances are there were times in your life when you both were more carefree. It might be beneficial for you and your family to revisit those places that once brought you joy and laughter and make some new memories. This will help you reduce the stress of being a giving relationship all the time.
Remembering to make yourself a priority from time to time is not selfish. It may be the most unselfish thing you can do for your family. When you become over-tired, it becomes harder for you to care for others. That can lead to increased depression, a short fuse, and behaviors that can harm you and your loved one. Doing the things that will keep you healthy and happy will keep your family, loved one, and employer happy too.
If you are caring for someone living with dementia, we encourage you to join our free dementia support groups. Think of this as your safe space to learn more about dementia, seek support and simply surround yourself with those walking this road with you.