Tips for the Alzheimer's Caregiver
Caring for a loved with Alzheimer’s disease is financially, spiritually and emotionally challenging. Anger, grief and guilt can strike at any moment in the process, leaving the caretaker feeling totally depleted. Proper nutrition, exercise, and finding ways to manage stress is imperative for the caretaker and their loved one. Follow these strategies to combat stress, depression and exhaustion while taking care of your loved one.
Watch Out for Stress
Watch your stress! Stress can cause physical and severe changes in behavior. Take a pilates class or go for a walk to release stress and anxiety. Look for a community center that holds free or discounted fitness classes. When you feel overwhelmed, walk away from the situation and go outside and enjoy nature, for a fresher perspective, it helps!
Making Personal Time
Make time for yourself with friends and other family members. My aunt is caring for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease and makes an appointment every afternoon with her husband to meet for coffee. When she is super stressed, she goes to the mall or goes to a bookstore to clear her head. Give yourself permission to ask other family members to cover for you while you take a break. Take advantage of community services that offer adult day care.
Learn more about the disease and treatment options. Information and medications are always evolving. Finding a support group and online community to share pertinent information will help you learn what is available to you. You can find out more information on the Alzheimer's Association website by joining their online community at www.alz.org, or contact your local chapter for additional resources.
Prepare for the financial future. Talk to a lawyer about finances, properties and care issues. Involve your loved one, if possible, and other family members in the process.
With many behaviors from Alzheimer's disease being erratic, acknowledge that you have no control over your loved one's behavior. Try focusing on the positives. Look for happiness in the small things, like sharing a laugh.
Keep a journal to release fears, hopes and to write out your goals. Writing can help release anxiety and document the blessings along the way. This will help you reflect on those blessings at a time when encouragement is needed the most.
You are not a failure for seeking help from others. Church groups, friends, and outreach programs can provide additional support as you take back your life and grow as a caregiver.