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Caring for yourself when you’re a caregiver

Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. This could mean asking family members or friends to help out, doing things you enjoy, using adult day care services, or getting help from an at-home care agency such as Care & Comfort at Home. Taking these actions can bring you some relief. It also may help keep you from getting ill or depressed.

Here are some ways you can take care of yourself:

  •  Ask for help when you need it.
  •  Join a caregivers’ support group.
  •  Take breaks each day.
  •  Spend time with friends.
  •  Keep up with your hobbies and interests.
  •  Eat healthy foods.
  •  Get exercise as often as you can.
  •  See your doctor on a regular basis.
  •  Keep your health, legal, and financial information up-to-date.

It’s OK to ask for help!

Many caregivers find it hard to ask for help. They feel like they should do everything themselves or that no one would help, even if asked. They might think it’s not right to leave an elderly person or a person with Alzheimer’s disease with someone else. Maybe they believe that they cannot afford to pay someone to watch the person for an hour or two.

However, it’s OK to ask for help from family and friends. You don’t have to do everything yourself. If you have trouble asking for help, try these tips:

  • Ask people to help out in specific ways, such as making a meal, visiting the person being cared for, or taking the person out for a short time.
  • Join a support group to share advice and understanding with other caregivers. These groups meet in person or online. Ask the person’s doctor, check online, or look in the phone book for a local caregiver’s or Alzheimer’s organization.
  • Don’t assume that you can’t afford at-home help. Call us here at Care & Comfort at Home for more information. We can be reached at (630) 333-9262. We might be able to relieve you at least occasionally of some of your caregiving duties. In many cases, veterans have benefits afforded to them that include at-home care at no cost to the veteran.

Your own emotional health

You might be so busy caring for an elderly person or a person with Alzheimer’s disease that you don’t take time to think about your emotional health. Caring for the elderly and in particular for a person with Alzheimer’s takes a lot of time and effort. Sometimes, you may feel discouraged, sad, lonely, frustrated, confused, or angry. These feelings are normal.

Here are some things you can say to yourself that might help you feel better:

  •  I’m doing the best that I can.
  •  What I’m doing would be hard for anyone to do.
  •  I’m not perfect, and that’s OK.
  •  I can’t control some things that happen.
  •  Sometimes, I just need to do what works for right now.
  •  Even when I do everything I can think of, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will still have problem behaviors because of the illness, not  because of what I do.
  •  I will enjoy the moments when we can be together in peace.
  •  I will try to get help from a counselor if caregiving becomes too much for me and look for support from others.

Meeting your spiritual needs

As the caregiver of an elderly person or a person with Alzheimer’s, you may need more spiritual resources than others do. Meeting your spiritual needs can help you cope better as a caregiver and find a sense of balance and peace. Some people like to be involved with others as part of a faith community, such as a church, temple, or mosque. For others, simply having a sense that larger forces are at work in the world helps meet their spiritual needs.

Information courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Education and Referral Center (ADEAR)

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