Caring for a loved one with dementia or other memory disorders at home is a valiant effort for anyone to take on. It can also be incredibly stressful and taxing on one’s own lifestyle and wellbeing. If you find yourself in this position but fear burnout, here are 10 ways for you to get the support you need, cut down on the stress that comes with the job, and remember why you are filling this very important role in the first place.
1. Knowledge is Power
Fully educate yourself on your loved one’s condition by thoroughly reviewing their medical history. The more you know about their health problems, disorders, and conditions, the better you will be able to educate yourself on the best way to care for them.
2. Set Reasonable Expectations
It’s important to check in with yourself and set realistic expectations of your role and its effect on your loved one. Many caregivers expect their involvement will have a positive effect on a loved one, when in reality this may be unrealistic for someone living with dementia. Know your loved one is not the disease. Disassociate the two. Daily Caring has some tips on how to strike a balance between your roles as caregiver and loved one.
3. Establish a Support System
While you may be the sole care provider for your loved one, it’s just as important to make sure you have a team behind you to help support, well, you. Find people you can cry to, laugh with, and help cope with the everyday stress that comes with this tough job. Look locally for support groups or an online support network.
4. Ask For Help
This should go without saying, but one person cannot do it all. Give yourself permission to ask for help when needed. Once you have your support system established, reach out for a helping hand. Understand your limitations, set realistic expectations, and learn to delegate.
5. Become a List Maker
In this very important role, it is crucial to be organized and have a set of loose “must-dos” for the day. Get in the habit of creating a to-do list, so when you’re ready to delegate, you can easily hand off tasks. And if your days are becoming stressful, check in with your list and prioritize what is most important.
6. Get Some “Me” Time
Everyone needs time to themselves to rest, recharge, and get back to being the best caregiver they can be. Do something for yourself – a hobby, one-on-one time with other family members, or exercising are all good options.
7. Make Personal Health a Priority
Think of the old airplane philosophy – put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. Managing your own health is so important to keep up with the wellbeing of your loved one. Get good sleep on a nightly basis. Exercise daily. Eat foods that fuel your body. The Mayo Clinic offers these tips on how caregivers can manage their own health.
8. It’s OK to Take Breaks
As much as you want to be there for your loved one at all times, own up to when you need to take a break. Hitting the pause button at times is very important for your mental health. Call a neighbor, family, or a friend if you need a quick break.
9. Connect With Your Loved One
Sometimes the day-to-day tasks can get the best of people and you may become rushed, rigid, and, as a result, resentful. Make sure to connect with your loved one daily. Maybe there is an old song you both loved to sing. Look through photographs together. Ground and center yourself with taking the much-needed time to connect.
10. Know When to Research Memory Care
By far the most important tip: When you’ve reached max capacity, know when to research a Memory Care community for your loved one. Whether you have already reached the burnout point, or you simply have too much on your plate, your loved one deserves the best care possible. The care and wellbeing for both you and your loved one is of utmost importance. A Memory Care neighborhood can step in with individualized and dignified care for your loved one.
Bottom line: Take care of yourself in order to best take care of your loved one. And if you think Memory Care might be a better solution, contact Artis Senior Living to learn more about our communities.