Self-Care for Caretakers
The best way to protect yourself in this process is by implementing good boundaries. People with good boundaries say “no” in situations that are problematic. They are interested in the long-term accomplishment of the goal.
If the journey of Alzheimer’s is new to you, establish rigid boundaries. Too many people get into the habit of saying “yes” early on while not expressing their true thoughts and feelings. This creates problems later, as others begin to expect certain things from you. It is far easier to loosen boundaries later than it is to tighten them.
Finding time for yourself and ways to recharge in your downtime is crucial. Do not make the mistake of thinking that best way to relax is staring at the TV from the couch. This coping skill is more neutral or negative than positive.
Focus your energies towards seeking out positive experiences with uplifting people. Go pleasurable places, eat a good meal and get a massage. Find some way to bring humor and laughter into your life.
In this case, holistic means paying attention to your life in its entirety. If the only focus you have is on your loved one with Alzheimer’s, the other aspects of your will suffer. Attention to the older generation will result in fewer resources available to the younger generation.
Spend time with your children to maintain an effective relationship. Balance work with home life by using high levels of communication at your place of employment. Being a caretaker is a juggling act. Keep all your balls in the air.
Burnout is a major concern for anyone dealing with the Alzheimer’s of a loved one. Burnout is caused by overexerting yourself and draining all of your physical, emotional and financial resources caring for others.
Even if you follow these tips precisely, burnout can still walk into your life. Burnout will bring symptoms of depression and anxiety. Track yourself and your symptoms. Sleep, diet and exercise will be good indicators of your burnout or well-being.
Be a Team
Providing any level of care for someone with Alzheimer’s is intense job. Doing it alone fuels the fire of burnout. Accept help and assistance often. If none has been offered, use your best assertive communication to ask for help.
Asking for help does not mean you are failing. The only failure is allowing yourself to suffer. If you continue to be denied, it may be time for professional help. This is not giving up. It is, in fact, a commitment to provide best level of care for your loved one.