As I reflect back on the past when I was taking care of my parents, whom were both diagnosed at the same time with Alzheimer’s, I often found that it was very easy due to the stress of caring for them to neglect my own needs. I encourage every caregiver to take time for yourself, to maintain your own health and to avoid becoming over-stressed and vulnerable to other problems.
By taking care of yourself, you are also making sure that you will be able to continue caring for your loved one.
Here are a few basic ways you can do this:
Get the food and rest you need.
• Make yourself sit down and eat three meals a day; it is easy to forget when you are busy and under stress.
• If giving care disturbs your sleep at night, take a nap during the day while your loved one rests.
Take time for yourself.
• Get out for a breath of fresh air or a change of scenery – even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood.
• Relax in a warm bath.
• Read a book or listen to music.
• Let yourself be alone for a short time to clear your head. Ask a relative or friend to step in and give you a much needed break.
Let others take part in the work of caregiving.
• Allow and encourage friends and family members to participate. They won’t feel so powerless when they feel included by doing something – anything – to help.
• Let people bring meals, run errands, sit with your loved one.
• Allow yourself to tell people what they can do to help.
Seek and accept support for yourself.
• Talk to family and friends about your feelings.
• Find ways to care for your spiritual self. Whether or not you are affiliated with a particular religion, seeking guidance from someone who shares your spiritual outlook can help.
God Bless You,
Author, “36 Days Apart”