Caring for Yourself When Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s

Today I’m featuring a guest post by freelance writer Katie Elizabeth. She offers up helpful advice and positive lessons for Alzheimer’s caregivers. If you would like to write a guest post for The Memories Project, feel free to contact me at joyjohnston.writer@gmail.com.

When someone you love, such as a parent, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s a scary and overwhelming experience. You have a lot of questions, you start preparing for the worst and you start to see Mom or Dad in an entirely different light. Suddenly, time seems exceptionally precious and you begin hoping for good days. That’s completely normal.

Unfortunately, what’s also normal is that you begin to forget to care about yourself. You start counting regrets, things you wish you would have done and early signs of the disease that seem so obvious now. While it’s natural to want to squeeze in as much quality time as possible or, sometimes, try to distance yourself, slow down. Don’t forget about how you fit in this equation.

Sometimes it seems impossible, but as caregivers we must find alone time.

Sometimes it seems impossible, but as caregivers we must find alone time.

Stop the Flagellation

There are no current, proven ways to stop Alzheimer’s from happening. While this is a simple fact, it’s often hard to process when you’re going through it. It’s often wise to seek counseling for yourself when a loved one is diagnosed to help you process the new information.

There will surely be days when you beat yourself up, such as remembering the eye roll you gave when Dad couldn’t remember something he did every day. Acknowledge it, move on and focus on the present. While that’s easier said than done, it’s a good goal to keep in mind. Noticing and accepting when you cling to the past is the only way to move forward.

Get Your Breaks

Whether you’re moving a parent in with you or finding the perfect care facility for them, it’s important to still carve out time just for you. No one can be a caretaker 24/7, and it’s certainly not a good idea to worry that much. It’s not selfish to create a relaxing time of the day just for you. Whether it’s shopping, a spa day or a good run, let go of the guilt and enjoy your special time.

By giving yourself breaks from caregiving, you’re ensuring that you’re at your best. Nobody wants an overworked, tired, cranky person caring for them. Your empathy, compassion and overall mood will improve with frequent breaks. It can be frustrating dealing with Alzheimer’s, even when the person is a loved one.

Is it Going to Happen to You?

Don’t feel bad if one of your immediate thoughts is “will this happen to me?” While scientists don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s, there’s evidence that genetics is at least somewhat involved. Read up on the theories, but don’t drown in them. If you’re really concerned, consider adding supplements that show evidence of delaying dementia, such as a daily cup of green tea.

There’s no telling if Alzheimer’s will happen to someone close to you. However, worrying guarantees detrimental effects. Enjoy the time you have, focus on the good days and don’t lose yourself in the process.

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