Self-Care for Caregivers: Tips to Help Alzheimer’s Caregivers Relax and Refresh
In the US alone, roughly 5.5 million individuals are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people being affected by this incurable disease could be twice or triple that amount. Additionally, family, friends, and caregivers are all directly impacted by this condition. As care is the primary treatment for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, it’s not uncommon for caregivers to work around the clock without any thought for their own well-being. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion or complete discouragement. As National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Family Caregivers Month, November is the perfect time for these heroes to finally adopt some much-needed self-care into their lives.
Organize Some Home-Based Activities
As a caregiver who doesn’t get a lot of free time, it’s important to work some self-care into your work schedule. While you should always consider the wants and needs of your patient, it doesn’t hurt to choose some home-based activities which you can enjoy as well. Instead of taking a stressful stroll outside or in public, relax in the comfort of the indoors and find an enjoyable way to pass the time with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. You could curl up on the couch and watch old home movies, play brain-stimulating games such as crossword puzzles or memory games, look through old photos, or read a story.
Take Regular Breaks
It’s no secret that caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease is a challenging and frustrating undertaking. Caregivers need to ensure their schedule is peppered with sufficient breaks to get their minds off of these responsibilities in order to return refreshed re-energized. If your schedule is simply too packed to afford some free time, turn to local resources to cover some of your daily tasks. In-home nurses, meal delivery services, and adult daycare centers are all services that can get you a much-needed break to recharge. If you string enough of these together, you might even be able to take an entire day off.
Use Proven Relaxation Techniques
As a caregiver, you understand how toxic stress can be better than most people. Adopting some relaxation techniques can help free your mind and body of the stressors building up throughout the day. Through meditation, you can take 10 minutes out of each day to simply clear your mind and allow all of your thoughts to settle like mud in water. Continuous practice has been associated with enhanced empathy, lower levels of cortisol, and improved cognition. Visualization is another positive relaxation technique that’s linked to overcoming obstacles. All you have to do is mentally imagine positive feelings, events, or people you want in your life.
Develop Separate Goals and Ambitions
It’s difficult to think about anything else when another human life is dependent upon your care. This all-consuming nature of Alzheimer’s care often leads many caregivers to become unable to detach themselves from their patients or work even temporarily. Having a life outside of your care is important for your emotional well-being and will allow you to be more focused when on the job. Developing external goals and ambitions, divorced from the regular care of your patient, is a great way to nurture this transition. Take up a new hobby such as playing on a local sports team or learn a new skill like a new language or instrument.
Alzheimer’s caregivers dedicate so much time and energy to their loved ones that their personal health and well-being often take a backseat in terms of priority. Adopting a few self-care habits can help relieve the stress associated with this position and provide you with even more positivity to care for your patients.