The best way to take care of someone else is to take care of yourself. Don't neglect your health--get wellness checkups, eat properly, get as much uninterrupted sleep as you can and take some "me" time. Make a list of things you could use help with and when someone asks if there is anything they can do, look at the list and find something specific.
Don't give up everything you love! Seek respite care so you can continue with a favorite hobby or passtime. Also, know when to say when. If you are overwhelmed consider your options. Do you need someone to share the caregiving duties? You might consider family, friends, or hired help. Has caregiving gone beyond your capabilities? If so, begin the search for adult day care, assisted living, or long-term care.
Contact your local Alzheimer's Association Chapter to find out about support groups and resources available in your area. Don't try to do it alone--ask for help.
If you're a "fixer," as I am, you'll be forever beating yourself up and second-guessing your caregiving methods. You'll feel deep remorse because you couldn't "fix-it." My Mom passed away 3 years ago and most days I'm still reminded of something I should have or could have done.
I'm working hard to "let go" of that attitude. I only wanted the best for my mom and did the best I could to take care of her every day. That was all I could have done, so right now I'm working on treating myself well, be thankful I was able to be there for Mom and knowing I did the very best I could to help her. So if you have any regrets about what you are doing or NOT doing to help your loved one, forgive yourself. You're doing the best you can under some
Learn, learn learn. Family caregivers who access caregiver training classes can stay it it, with more joy and less stress, for nearly 2 extra years than those who don't get the training. Fortunately, caregiver training is readily available through local Senior Centers, Alzheimer's Associations and even online over the internet (see some free training we offer at
www.caringformom.com). Families tell me all the time that learning even one or two new techniques "saved my life" as a caregiver. What you do is important - learn all the tricks and tips you can to make it easier!
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