Staying healthy yourself is vital when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.
It's easy to lose sight of your own needs. But if you're healthy, you'll be better able to give your time and energy to caring for your loved one.
Learning to cope effectively with the stress of caregiving is key. The Alzheimer's Association says Alzheimer's caregivers report that they frequently experience high levels of stress.
Your feelings are normal
You may feel a wide range of emotions as you face the challenges of caregiving.
If you start to experience anger, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, exhaustion, irritability, social withdrawal or unusual health problems on a regular basis, consult your doctor, says the association.
Solutions to help you cope
The Alzheimer's Association also suggests these tips for reducing caregiver stress:
- Learn about resources in your community.
- Ask for help from family, friends and community resources.
- Seek further information about caregiving for those with Alzheimer's.
- Take on only the tasks you can accomplish.
- Take time for exercise, sleep and a healthy diet.
- Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or stretching.
- Take care of legal and financial planning early once you learn a loved one has Alzheimer's.
- Accept changes.
- Give yourself a break if you feel overwhelmed.
Feelings of loss
Alzheimer's can change your life and the life of your loved one significantly.
Grief is a common result of caregiving, according to the association. You may feel angry or frustrated with your loved one, or you might feel like you could have done things differently before the disease occurred.
Some people may feel guilty that they still get to enjoy life when their loved one is unable to.
Try following these action steps from the association:
- Accept your feelings of guilt as a normal part of loss.
- Forgive yourself.
- Share your feelings with a friend or find a support group.
- Learn to accept and celebrate the good things in your life.
For more information, education and support, contact the Alzheimer's Association at 800.272.3900.