Senior Care and Alzheimer’s: As a Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself

cindymurdoch By cindymurdoch, 30th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/100jet2-/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Alzheimer's & Memory

Providing care for someone - anyone - especially a loved one, is hard work. It is very important to remember to take care of yourself as well in order to continue to be an effective caregiver. Part of that process is knowing that certain feelings may be experienced and it is okay!

Senior Care and Alzheimer’s: As a Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself

When a person is caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s, especially for someone they love, it is very easy to forget to take care of yourself. It’s very easy to get buried under the details that have to be coordinated when you are responsible for two lives.
However difficult it may be, I encourage anyone who finds themselves in the position of caring for someone else, to get into the habit of making time to care for themselves each and every day. If you do not maintain your health -- physically, mentally, and emotionally – you will not be able to provide care for anyone for very long.
It’s very important that you don’t totally abandon your current life. Your job as a caregiver will eventually come to an end, and it would benefit you to still have a life to continue, rather than having to start over because you totally sacrificed everything. Find a way to stay involved with the people you love, and in the things you love to do.

As a Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself! Don't Wait! Do it Now!

It’s essential for you to put this very important suggestion into practice. In fact, make it more than a suggestion – make it a rule to follow.
The rule: Take care of yourself, so that you'll be able to take care of them. And then make sure you follow this simple rule, no matter what!
When you first start the caregiving journey, it’s much easier than it will be later. As time goes on, the demands on your time and emotions will be massive, compared to what they are now. So now is a good time to begin to set routines into place that will allow you to care for yourself while taking care of someone else. Structure and routines will make it easier on you and the one that you are caring for.

Senior Care and Alzheimer’s: Why am I feeling . . .

As a caregiver, you will feel:
• Anger – Why is this happening? Why am I stuck doing this all by myself? I need a break!
• Frustration – Why is this happening to me? How can I ever learn to cope with the same questions, over and over? Why isn’t more of my family helping? I need to go somewhere and just scream until I can’t anymore!
• Sadness – They don’t even know who I am most of the time? I miss my friends? I don’t have any time for myself anymore. I want to just curl up somewhere and not be responsible for anything or anyone.
• Anxiety – What if I say or do the wrong thing? Should I respond this way or that way? I need to get away!
• Guilt - I should have done more, after all, they deserve it. I shouldn’t have lost my temper the way I did . . . I shouldn’t have said . . . I shouldn’t be feeling this way, but I sure need some time to myself!
• Stress – I have to do this, and this, and this, and keep an eye on them. How can I get it all done? There just is not enough time in the day! I need some time just to collect my thoughts!
• Grief – I miss the husband/wife who used to be here. I miss my mom/dad – they just aren’t themselves anymore. Where has my life gone? I just want to find somewhere and be by myself and have a good cry.

Senior Care and Alzheimer's Support Groups

By the way, these are all normal feelings. Anyone dealing with the stresses that you find yourself having to deal with day in and day out, would feel these things and many, many more! It’s okay.
That’s why it’s so good to attend those support groups that we talked about in the community resource article. It gives you a safe place to vent these feelings, so that you are not stuffing them. If you stuff them, you will eventually explode, and it won’t be pretty. And it will lead to many more of these same feelings, only now they are multiplied and more intense.
So make plans to take care of yourself while making plans to take care of them at the same time. But when the time comes and the unexpected happens, and it will, be flexible enough to make changes as needed in order to get through the crisis. Then pick up where you left off and continue with your plans.
Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of them – now and later.


Copyright © 2011 Cindy Murdoch - All Rights Reserved

Additional Alzheimer's Articles by Cindy Murdoch:

How to Talk with Someone Who Has Alzheimer's or Memory Loss~ Communication & Short Term Memory Loss
Activities for Alzheimer's, Coloring Pages for Adults

Older Comments... (This article was moved from another one of my sites to here, and fully updated April 30, 2012)

(Wouldn't want you to miss some of the great comments others have shared!)

Nell Rose - Hi, I totally agree, you should always go to a support group, and definitely take time out for yourself, how on earth are you going to cope if you forget who you are and what you do? it must be awful, my brother looked after my mum and dad for years, with my help but I lived around the corner, so could step away.

qsera - True, we should join some support groups. I wish there were a few good ones around. May be I could find them online. My brother and I fell exactly the same while taking care of our mom.

INFJay - Despite all the warnings from reading articles, Alzheimer's website, my doctor, and others, taking care of myself was the most challenging and difficult task while caring for my father for two years. Now that he is in a nursing home, it is still difficult with the stress and worry on how he is doing and whether I made the right decision in placing him in a home. (yes, it was the right decision but I'm just always questioning myself).

Tags

Alzheimers, Caregiver Burnout, Senior Care, Take Care Of Yourself

Meet the author

author avatar cindymurdoch
Cindy Murdoch is a business owner, freelance writer and native Texan.

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Comments

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
6th May 2012 (#)

Only the person concerned will know what he/she is going through. They need all the support from those who cannot directly chip-in. Empathy, compassion and understanding will act as a soothing balm during this trying period. But one should emerge stronger after such crisis. Thanks Cindy for this valuable share - siva

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author avatar cindymurdoch
6th May 2012 (#)

Yes, Siva. We each have different strengths and weaknesses, and those we are caring for also have the same, making each situation truly unique. As you stated, Empathy, compassion and understanding are all important when faced with this situation.

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