Caring for Caregiver & Resources
Importance Caregiver Self-Care
Taking the time to care for yourself does not have to be all-consuming. In fact, self-care can be simple and a part of your daily routine even while caring for your loved one. Consider reading a book, meditating, practicing breathing exercises, journaling, gardening, going for a walk, taking care of your own health, and talking with someone you trust and can relate to your circumstances.
Developing a simple self-care routine is crucial in allowing yourself time for renewal and the ability to continue caring for others.
Practicing kindness by forgiving yourself instead of feeling guilty over a difficult decision you made. Each day allows you to make a fresh start and new decisions that can improve the quality of life for yourself and your loved ones.
Rosalyn Carter (wife of President Jimmy Carter) once said:
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Taking care of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely stressful. Too much stress can be damaging to both a caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s. If you feel overwhelmed and are neglecting your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, you may be putting your health and yourself at risk.
If you are experiencing some of these signs of stress on a regular basis, consult your doctor. Ignoring them can cause your physical and mental health to decline. Symptoms of caregiver stress are:
- Social Withdrawal
- Lack of Concentration
- Health Problems
Caregivers and Communication
When caring for a person with dementia communication skills can enhance your ability to handle a difficult behavior that you may encounter.
Here are some suggestions to try to reduce agitation:
- Set a positive mood before interacting
- Get the person’s attention in a kind way before engaging with them
- State your message clearly and concisely
- Ask simple questions
- Listen with your eyes, ears, and heart to what their body language is telling you
- Break down tasks into a series of smaller steps
- During tough times try to distract and redirect
- Respond with affection and reassurance
- Reminiscing about the good times in the past
- Maintain your sense of humor
Asking for Help
Loving and caring for someone with dementia can be challenging and rewarding. You are not alone and it is not selfish or shameful to ask for help. It is normal to wonder how much longer you will be able to provide care or if you are simply enough. A social worker is available to talk with you when you are ready to discuss your options. Contact your Memory Clinic social worker at 916-474-6380 for more information about caregiver support, education classes, respite care grants, and other resources that may be available in your community.