If you want to be a good caregiver, you need to take care of yourself too. Caring for an older adult or a family-member with a long-term illness can be complicated. For a dementia or Alzheimer’s caregiver, the days are long and the challenges many. Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area shared these five tips to help care for the caregivers.
Caring for the Caregiver
1. Avoid stress and burnout.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is much like having a newborn or toddler. You spend so much time keeping them safe that you may not be getting enough rest yourself. You may think, “she is napping now, I can get so much done.” Wrong. Take a nap whenever you can. Recharging your battery is so important and everything else can wait.
2. Relax your expectations.
Don’t expect them to act like a normal functioning, clear thinking adult. If the person in your care were those things, they wouldn’t need care. When you ease those expectations and started seeing them as they are and not how they were, your thinking shifts from “Why are they being so difficult?” to “How can I make their life easier today?”.
3. Find your support.
Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area sponsors caring, non-judgmental meetings where families and friends share their experiences and learn information for coping with the disease. These caregiver support groups meet regularly and are free. Click here to view the schedule or call 225.334.7494 for more details.
4. Don’t forget to laugh.
Without humor, anger and bitterness quickly take hold. Sometimes you’re simply choosing to laugh instead of cry. Watching someone’s mind deteriorate isn’t funny, but sometimes you have to find humor in some situations. When your loved one goes from a stylish woman who could dress herself appropriately to wanting to wear a nightgown to church, you just have to chuckle then get creative; maybe install hanging closet organizers labeled with each category (skirts, slacks, day dresses, etc.) and organize her closet by clothing type.
5. Respite care helps you help them.
You simply cannot do it all by yourself. Maybe they are getting too heavy to lift or refuse to take a shower. It is worth contacting Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area or a home health care agency to get help—for you, not them.
6. Have fun with people who really understand.
The pressures of society can, discourage caregivers from socializing with their loved one. Tender Love and Care for Caregivers (TLC) provides caregivers an event where they and their loved one can go and relax. At TLC events, everyone understands the struggles associated with this disease. These events are beneficial to caregivers who can find allies in this journey and find support at these events. TLC events are also beneficial to the individual who is struggling with dementia, allowing them the opportunity to socialize in a stress free and caring environment. Click here for more information and to register as a current caregiver with Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area.
Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area is a local non-profit organization serving the Greater Baton Rouge area by providing education and support programs to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Their 10-parish service area includes Ascension, Assumption, East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee and St. Helena Parishes.
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