Don't Neglect Your Own Needs
When you discover that a loved one is dealing with Alzheimer's, it's only natural to do whatever necessary to provide the support and care they need, whether that's making sure they eat enough, stay safe in their home, or receive daily check-ins. But the demands of caregiving can be draining, especially in the long-term, and you can be left feeling worn out and exhausted. As much as you want to give to your loved one, at some point, you'll eventually start feeling like you have nothing to give.
When you are so busy worrying about someone else, you don't have any time or energy to care for yourself. Often, the result leads to burnout, which is neither good for you or your loved one. But it doesn't have to get to that point. Whether it's asking for outside help or learning your limitations, when you focus on self-care you'll ultimately become a better caregiver for your loved one.
Alzheimer’s isn’t just hard for those who have it — it’s emotionally challenging for friends and family, too. Here are some common reactions to Alzheimer’s along with some tips for coping.
Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer’s can be difficult. You may find yourself answering the same questions or constantly repeating the same directions.
While it’s natural to get frustrated, try to be patient and remember that you’re in this together. Keep in mind that your loved one may also be feeling frustrated as they struggle to remember words, facts or people.
No matter how organized you are, taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s can become overwhelming. It can be difficult to provide the constant care someone with Alzheimer’s needs.
It’s important to build a care network of friends, family, and support groups who can help you through difficult times. You may also want to seek a counselor who can provide helpful coping mechanisms.
It can be hard to admit how much your loved one is declining. But denial can make you miss crucial opportunities to help your loved one, like starting medication that could slow down cognitive impairment or talking to them about topics like long-term care while they still are able.
Talking to friends or family or finding a support group can help you feel less alone when facing these challenges.
As your loved one's Alzheimer’s progresses, it’s normal to feel some sadness. It can be difficult to watch someone you love forget precious memories or the names of their grandchildren.
It’s important to take care of your mental health as a caretaker, whether that means finding a friend, support group or counselor who can help you cope with feelings of depression or grief.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is demanding, and it can take its toll on your health, making you feel both mentally and physically exhausted.
Don’t overdo it. If you don’t have the time or energy to be a full-time caretaker, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it just means you need some help. Don’t feel ashamed to look into options for a memory care residence.
Watching a loved one go through Alzheimer’s may bring up fears and anxiety about your own aging and death. This is a normal reaction.
Thankfully, studies show that late-onset Alzheimer’s may not be a genetic disease, and that regular exercise and activity can greatly reduce your risk. If you are concerned, regular health screenings can help you catch symptoms early and maintain your health for as long as possible.
What You Can Do
While it's normal to experience certain negative emotions about Alzheimer's, it doesn't mean you have to just endure it. As a caregiver, there are things you can do to help keep you in good spirits and prioritize your health, both mentally and physically.