Providing full-time care to a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be tough. Even if you are not living with the loved one, you may worry or be on edge any time the phone rings. The responsibility can be overwhelming. You may feel guilty when you are away or feel alienated from family and friends.
For this reason, caregiver burnout is a concern for many. If you are feeling guilty about taking time to yourself, remember that self-care is important. When you are unhappy or tired it will be much harder to assist your loved one as your patience will be running thin. This will also be making it more difficult for you to find the right care solutions for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Treat Yourself to Some Free Time
When you are a caregiver of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, making time to focus on yourself can be a problem. Something as simple as having your neighbor stay with your loved one while you grab a coffee can make a difference. Another idea is hiring a home health aide or an adult day care for a few hours. These options provide entertainment and activities for seniors, such as art and music. This is a good option because you will have free time as well.
Use Respite Care
Every once and a while you will need more time to yourself. Just a few days away from your caregiving duties to recover. One option for this is to ask a relative or friend to come stay with your loved one for a few days. If this is not an option, there are assisted living and other senior facilities where seniors can stay a few days at a time. It is important to plan ahead for this and have a back up person in case of an emergency.
Find a Support Group
Being a caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be isolating. Joining a support group of people who are in the same situation can reduce the isolation. Additionally, this can be an outlet for moral support and advice.
Identify Caregiver Burnout
Seek support from a mental-health professional or contact your physician for a referral. Likewise, you can also contact the Alzheimer’s Association of the Family Caregiver Alliance if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling depressed or extreme sadness
- Unable to function as you used to
- Yelling a the person you are caring for, or excessive crying
- Staying up at night worrying
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Feelings of isolation
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Feeling hopeless/suicidal
Enjoy the Little Things
It helps to keep in mind that even a person in late stages of dementia still experience joy. Finding those moments where you both connect with a smile can make a difference. Take time to enjoy the little things.