Being a caregiver can be exhausting. It’s rewarding, and you know you’d do it a million times over because your love your mom. But how do you cope with what can be an overwhelming sense of stress that often accompanies caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s?
Beware of Signs of Burnout
Knowing the symptoms of caregiver burnout is essential to managing your emotional well-being.
Signs may include:
- A sense of denial about your dad’s condition
- Exhaustion or sleeplessness
- Anger, frustration and irritability
- Anxiety or depression
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Extreme weight gain or loss
- Frequent headaches
- Abusing drugs, alcohol or prescription medications
Tending to Your Needs During Each Stage of Care
Early stages: Your mom may not need much assistance following her initial diagnosis. That’s the time to make use of your resources, learn about her condition and ways to slow the disease’s progression. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association for information and support. Now is also the time to get her financial affairs in order, including healthcare coverage, power of attorney and a will.
Middle stages: It’s not good to take on caregiving alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk with your loved ones about sharing the responsibilities of caring for dad. Joining a support group will also allow you to share your experiences with other caregivers. It’s also important to consider institutional care where your dad can receive 24/7 nursing care and the latest in fitness, nutrition, research and technology to manage his disease progression.
Late stages: Your dad will become more dependent on you to help him complete daily activities like dressing, eating and using the bathroom. That can take a physical and an emotional toll if you’re the only one providing care. You may consider in-home care, respite stays or adult daycare to lessen the weight of your responsibilities.
Work as a Team
Communication is key when it comes to effectively managing stress. You’ll need a good support system to address the unique challenges that come with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Ask friends, family and neighbors to share the responsibility. Create a weekly schedule to divvy up daily tasks associated with taking care of your mom or dad. It’s a good way to plan some time for yourself so you can catch up on chores, shopping, bills or rest.
Do Things for Yourself
One of the most important parts of effective self-care is doing things that make you happy. What are some activities you’ve put on the back burner because you haven’t had time? Is there a hobby you’d like to get back to, or maybe a new activity you’d like to try?
Think about what would help you relax and ease the emotional burdens of caregiving. You may consider:
- Taking a walk through your neighborhood or local park
- Riding your bicycle
- Swimming laps
- Reading a book
- Watching your favorite movie or show
- Painting or drawing
- Playing an instrument
- Meditating or practicing yoga