Caring For a Loved One
When you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it’s easy to get caught up in the task and forget your own needs. But, self-care is something that caregivers need to prioritize throughout the year so you can be at your best when caring for your loved one. Our tips will help you ensure you take good care of yourself in addition to your loved one.
Join a Support Group
Providing care to a loved one is a rich, rewarding experience. It also can be a lonely experience for caregivers who shoulder the responsibility themselves. Joining a caregiver support group is a critical component of self-care because you will have the chance to hear from others who understand your experience first-hand. You will realize you are not alone in your challenges or emotions, and you will receive resources and camaraderie when you participate in a caregiver’s support group.
Even the most overloaded caregivers who find time to join a support group find that it reduces their stress. By giving yourself permission to attend a support group, you will prioritize your feelings and needs, which is something you don’t get to do often.
You will benefit from sharing your feelings and experiences in a safe, confidential space, and you will learn much from the facilitator and your fellow group members. If you are the sole caregiver for your family member, look for a support group in your area that provides respite care for your loved one for the duration of the meeting.
Take Advantage of Day Services for Your Senior Loved One
One of the toughest challenges for caregivers is finding time to prioritize self-care. You need to make time to focus on yourself by taking advantage of services for your senior loved one and giving yourself a break. If your senior loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, she will benefit from participating in programs at an adult day center.
She will have the chance to socialize and participate in engaging activities in a fun environment while you will get a much-needed and well-deserved break. Take time to meditate, join a yoga class, run errands, go for a walk, or anything else that puts your needs first for a while.
If you are anxious about sending your loved one to an adult day center for the first time, spend some time choosing the right one. Determine your loved one’s needs and ensure the day center offers services that are specific to those needs. For example, make sure the center provides a safe, secure environment if you are concerned about your loved one wandering. Don’t be afraid to visit the center and check references ahead of time.
Arrange for Transportation for Your Loved One
If you worry about transporting your loved one to the adult day center, or if you struggle with transporting her to appointments or other activities, look into transportation options for your loved one. You may find a taxi service or local transportation option suitable for your loved one. Many caregivers rely on volunteer driving programs offered by community centers, churches, Area Offices of Aging, and nonprofits to drive their loved one to locations such as adult day centers. Finding a transportation solution saves caregivers at least a couple of hours each week, and you should use that time to focus on your self-care.
If you are an overloaded caregiver, don’t wait for a special occasion to prioritize your self-care. You cannot take the best care possible of your loved one if you don’t make time for your own physical and mental health. That’s why you need to join a caregiver support group, take advantage of day services for your senior loved one, and arrange for transportation for her.
Watch YouTube Video: Caregiver Training: Agitation and Anxiety. This video provides practical tools for caregivers to use in various settings to create a comfortable and safe environment for both the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s.
About the Author
June Duncan is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, a support system for family and friends who provide care for their loved ones. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.
Image via Pixabay
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