If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, how well are you looking out for your own health? Or are you, like so many others, so selfless in your desire to do the right thing for mom or dad that you ignore your own health?
If that sounds like you, consider the fact that losing track of your own health, in addition to exposing yourself to serious illness, will diminish your effectiveness as a caregiver. Think about it. If you were a machine calibrated to conduct a series of processes, you would want to keep your machine in optimum working condition. Because you know that, if any part of a machine isn’t up to par, the performance will drop off and may even stop working altogether.
Of course, you are not a “machine”. You are a living, breathing caring person who, like all of us, needs to be reminded of your own limits from time to time. But the fact is, caring for yourself is really the cornerstone to being able to properly care for and make decisions for mom or dad.
With that in mind, here are five things you need to be doing for yourself to be a better caregiver for your loved one:
- Take charge of your own physical health. When was the last time you had a “check-up”? Keeping up with doctor and dentist visits will help you tackle health issues before they become serious. Remember, that goes for mental health as well. Anxiety and depression often crop up as adult children struggle to balance the needs of their own lives with that of a parent with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Attend a dementia support group. These groups can provide a caring, supportive atmosphere in which to discuss your situation with others who understand, have been there and can help.
- Arrange for short respites. Find a memory care community that offers short-term or “respite” care for your loved one. It will give you some breathing room to attend to your own personal needs and re-charge, both emotionally and physically.
- Get (and stay) in touch with supportive family and friends. When a family member or friend reaches out to you, reach back! Accept their help and make it a point to stay in touch regularly with them. Even a weekly cup of coffee can do wonders for your emotional health.
- Look into memory care. It’s natural to want mom or dad to be able to stay in their home for as long as possible. And in the early stages, this is often possible. As the disease progresses, however, your parent’s needs will increase dramatically. At this point their best care option may be to transition to a caring, experienced memory care community.
Throughout your journey as a caregiver, it is also important to stay on top of the latest in research and technologies in the fight to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Consider joining your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Get involved in their activities. You’ll find by reaching out to others in similar situations you will gain much in return.
Anthem Memory Care communities are here to help. We hold regular dementia support groups, led by licensed professionals. We also provide short-term respite care, which gives you and your loved one a unique opportunity to experience an Anthem community and witness yourself the loving and compassionate care we provide.
We are here to be a resource for you. We welcome your call or visit any time to any of our care communities.