Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease is an all-consuming task. It feels much bigger than a 24/7 job. The caregiver cannot make a cup of coffee for themselves without first making sure that the person in their care is out of harm’s way. Watching a loved one disappear into the disease exacts an enormous emotional toll. Yet, family members frequently care for relatives with Alzheimer’s Disease, and professional caregivers put their heart and soul into the job. LivHOME recognizes the heavy toll of caring for those suffering with Alzheimer’s and offers many different types of support and assistance. If caregivers exhibit any of these signs or symptoms, they need support, and possibly a break, from caregiving:
Excessive stress and tension
Persistent anxiety, anger, or guilt
Extreme irritability or anger with the dementia patient
These symptoms hold the very real potential of making the caregiver physically ill. Therefore, it is extremely important that the caregiver adopt a strategy of self-care.
1. Stay active/Exercise regularly
- Walking, jogging, yoga — all of these work the stress out of the body. The person feels more energized, relaxed, and the brain and heart receive new oxygen and fresh blood. Every inch of the body is better and the brain renewed when a person exercises regularly.
2. Keep a daily journal
One does not have to be Ernest Hemingway to keep a journal. Think of it as talking to your best friend, but through a pen or pencil. Write down your raw thoughts and in the process you will relieve stress. Once it’s on paper, throw it away. The point of journaling is to get rid of stress, so why keep the writing?
3. Talk through things with people you trust
Don’t hesitate to ask for support. Caregivers by nature are in charge, but remaining that way through times of stress can be costly, mentally and physically. Take your trusted friend or relative out for coffee and bend their ear. They will feel honored that you trust them to vent, and you will feel better for having done so.
4. RELAX — meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness
The ancient arts of yoga and meditation have been around for hundreds of years because they work. Slowly these relaxation methodologies have been adopted by the Western world. There are many free online sources that teach meditation and post guides to deep breathing and mindfulness exercises. They are highly beneficial in reducing stress and are worth considering.
5. Continue to develop emotional awareness
Alzheimer’s Disease alters the patient and the dynamics of their relationships. The disease is cruel to everyone involved. Creating loose expectations, and adopting the philosophy that daily change is now the norm will help greatly to cope with the disease. Love is in the moment at hand, and any micro-second of awareness is to be cherished. Everything else is up for grabs, and that type of emotional awareness can reduce stress and increase joy.