Grieving a Loved One
Whether Alzheimer’s is targeting your grandparent, parent, spouse or friend, it is a negative force. It can significantly interrupt your relationship with the person, and in turn, disturb your own mood and psychological well-being.
Their symptoms, level of functioning and perceived happiness will likely trigger symptoms in you. When they are doing well, you will feel relief, at ease and peaceful. When their symptoms are worse, you will feel increased apprehension, depression and overall stress.
Of course, the focus during Alzheimer’s treatment should be on the patient. Pay attention to yourself, though. If you find yourself in a caregiver position, you will need to address your needs as well as theirs. If you cannot take care of yourself, how can you possibly take care of them?
Self-Care for Caretakers
The caretaker role is extremely important while being extremely challenging. The well-being of your loved one is directly related to your well-being. Help yourself to help them. Here’s how:
Take an honest look at the risks you fear. What are your fears? What are your fears for your loved one? Once you identify your concerns, you can take practical steps towards resolution.
Some type of door alarms or home security are sensible if you are concerned about him or her wandering away from home. If you are worried about safety within the home, find ways to make the environment less dangerous by removing unneeded cleaning chemicals. Investigate common problems facing people with Alzheimer’s like issues with the stove or financial concerns to prepare yourself.
Making modifications to reduce the risk in the home will lessen the stress and distraction you experience while away from your loved one. You will be refreshed and motivated upon your return.
Having expectations based in reality will save you valuable resources. Think about what is realistic now and what is realistic in the long-term. Can you really work a fulltime job, take care of your kids and care for your ailing loved one simultaneously? It seems that doing all of this will increase your stress and decrease your overall well-being.
If you set your expectations too high, you feel failure and disappointment when the goal is not accomplished. Clearly list what role you are comfortable taking. Revise this list often and avoid being too rigid. Realistic expectations will change with the symptoms and functioning of your loved one.
Next page: five more tips for self-care.
Page three: grief and mourning.