By now you may have read some of the many articles and other news items proclaiming November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month. Both deserve recognition, to be sure. However, if you are currently a caregiver for a mom or dad with dementia, all the recognition in the world can’t help you with your day to day issues, challenges and fears. Or can it?
Why not use the focus on Alzheimer’s and caregivers this month to do a little self-assessment? We’ve put together a short list of “check-up” questions to help you make sure that you are doing everything possible to better cope with your role as caregiver.
Are you taking care of physical yourself? When was the last time you had a thorough physical? Lack of sleep, lack of exercise and poor diet are all typical issues associated with caregiving. The problem is that being in poor physical shape can cloud your thinking and make you far less able to function, let alone care for another person. It’s time to schedule a full check-up and make sure your doctor is aware of your role as caregiver.
Are you taking care of your emotional self? Taking care of your emotional needs is so important right now. You need time to yourself regularly to run errands, keep doctor’s appointments and just relax and recharge. Make sure you are reaching out to others who can help you find this precious time for yourself. Consider short-term “respite” care for your loved one for a week or more. That way you know they are getting quality care, while you take care of yourself.
- Are you planning for the future? In many ways, this is the hardest part of being a caregiver. We all want to think that our loved ones can remain comfortably at home forever. The reality is that the time may come when they will benefit more by being in a caring environment with professionals close at hand to keep them as well as possible, for as long as possible. Take time to learn about care communities in your area. Plan a short visit and ask questions. A good memory care community can be a great resource for you.
Be aware, too, that the focus on caregivers this month may encourage others to reach out to help you. Be open to accepting their help. If a relative or friend offers to run a few errands for you or fill in for you when you have a doctor’s appointment, let them!
Here at Anthem Memory Care, we regularly invite the public in to attend our seminars, dementia support groups and other events that the whole family can enjoy. You can take advantage of these free services to get your questions answered and help you navigate through the challenging months ahead.
November’s focus on caregivers and those families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease is an important one. Use that focus to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep yourself moving forward, not only in November, but in the months to come.