If you are caring for an elderly loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s likely that you often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and cranky. And you’re probably really hard on yourself for feeling that way. Welcome to the world of caregiving. You are not alone.
When we are caring for someone else, we can become so involved in that person’s needs that we forget about our own. The New Year is a perfect time to reflect on our lives and our health — physical, mental and spiritual.
We have two priorities at Advantage Home Care: taking care of our clients and their families, and taking care of our caregivers. We’d like to offer up some resolutions that may surprisingly make a huge difference.
An important thing to understand is that when you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you have to enter his or her world. As the disease progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for the opposite to happen. Our resolutions suggest new ways of communicating that might help ease some of the stress you may be experiencing.
- Don’t argue. If you don’t agree, let it go. Arguing will only make things worse.
- Don’t correct. Listen and try to understand the meaning behind the words.
- Don’t take over. Imagine how it must feel to be losing your memories and your independence, and yet still feel able to do things you’ve done forever. For instance, emptying the dishwasher. If your mother insists and you don’t think she should, don’t take over. Instead, ask her if you can do it together or simply stand nearby to make sure she is safe.
- Take a deep breath and count to five. It’s so easy for things to escalate when you’re trying to communicate with someone who may be demanding and critical. If you can, leave the room for a few minutes to collect yourself.
- Ask for help. Sometimes, you can get caught up in trying to do it all yourself — because you think it’s your duty, because you’re too exhausted to figure out what resources may even be available, or because you don’t even know what to ask for. Help can come from family members, community volunteers or paid companions or caregivers. If you need help figuring out what help you need, one place to start is the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline — 1.800.272.3900.
For a quick reality check of your level of stress, take this Caregiver Stress Check courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Do you regularly…
From all of us here at Advantage Home Care, we hope you take time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Take that time to unwind, it’s healthy.
Originally posted Dec 31, 2012