There is no doubt that caregiving is considered a labor of love with much sacrifice, selflessness and giving of time, resources and energy. Although it’s generally acknowledged that taking care of an elderly family member or friend is a good thing, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) experience a higher level of stress than those who care for others without AD. Another study conducted from the National Alliance for Caregiving indicates that as the symptoms of AD worsen, caregivers’ stress related health issues decline as well.
If you are a caregiver and you feel your life is unbalanced because of caring for your loved one, you may want to incorporate some of the tips below into your daily caregiving schedule.
1. Enlist the help of other family members and/or friends and neighbors to help when you feel overwhelmed. Other options are to enroll your loved one in an Adult Day Center or hire home health care of other source of respite care.
2. Keep up on the latest in Alzheimer’s information from websites such as AlzU.org. If you have not already done so, sign up for our 25 lesson course for caregivers at AlzU.org by CLICKING HERE. Take advantage of any teaching offered by your physician, nurses, physical therapists or other professionals.
3. Explore options for a support group for caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to start your search. The website has links to local support groups across the country, check out the “Caregiver Center” on the Alzheimer’s Association site at http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-support-groups.asp you can learn more about the importance of getting involved in support groups and search for local support groups in your geographical area.
4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself, eat healthy and stay in touch with keeping your stress level as low as possible. A regular work out schedule is important, be sure to schedule time for yourself. Have regular physician visits for health screening for yourself.
5. Keep the focus on positive things and not the negative whenever possible. Although there will certainly be times when you will need to meet the challenges that come along with a disease such as AD, but in the meantime, try to stay happy and take things in stride as much as possible. A sense of humor can be a lifesaver. Laughter is sometimes the best medicine for you and your loved one with AD as well.
6. Implement some type of spiritual program into your life on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be about church or religion, it could be a daily practice of meditation, or simply connecting to the outdoors. Growing spiritually can help you when you feel stressed or depressed and can help alleviate feelings of meaninglessness when it comes to the many daily tasks necessary to help your loved one with AD.
Above all, keep in mind that your own needs are just as important as your loved one’s needs when it comes to caregiving-this will help you and your loved one have the most positive experience possible in the caregiving process.
Learn more about AD by CLICKING HERE to join our 25 lesson course about Alzheimer’s disease, written specifically for caregivers.