There’s no such thing as “a typical day” for someone with dementia – or, for the individual caring for them. The individual may abruptly go from laughing, singing, and enjoying activities to aggressive, sullen, and angry. They could get stuck in tearful repetitions of asking to go “home.” They might pace and wander. Sleep might be difficult, or it may be all they wish to do.
It’s a huge honor to care for someone in your life with dementia; yet if we’re truthful, it can also be very daunting and stressful. Our Alzheimer’s care specialists are here to help you, however, with these essential tips for reducing dementia caregiver stress and restoring peace, calm, and mental wellness to family caregivers.
First off, build a community of support. It’s just not feasible to take care of someone you love with dementia without any help. Taking time for yourself is crucial to your own personal health in addition to that of the senior in your care. When family and friends ask how they can help, give them concrete examples of what you need. This might mean someone to spend an afternoon each week with the senior to play games, reminisce, take part in hobbies or exercise, etc. Maybe preparing meals or helping with housework and laundry would be a welcome relief. Or perhaps it’s transportation to religious services each weekend. Then graciously take the help offered.
Additionally, join a support group (either online or in person) for dementia caregivers. You will find others who can empathize with your struggles and provide tried-and-true tactics that can help. Just knowing you’ve got somebody to speak to who understands can provide incredible relief.
Use your downtime prudently. When you have the support of others, make use of your time to step away from providing care by participating in activities to help you relax and de-stress. Some ideas to get you started include:
- Relaxation strategies like yoga breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, prayer, meditation, etc.
- Physical exercise in whatever form is most enjoyable for you: going for a walk, riding a bike, gardening, swimming, etc.
- Being outside, where the fresh air and sunshine can help soothe any tension you’re experiencing; grab a good book and a cup of tea and settle onto the porch swing
Tend to your own health needs. You may get so swept up in making sure your senior family member’s doctor appointments are kept that your own have taken a back seat. Make arrangements for a regular examination and any other tests or procedures you have been postponing. Don’t forget your mental health as well. If your stress level feels overwhelming, talk with a professional counselor for help.
Absolute Companion Care, a trusted provider of memory care in Towson, MD and nearby areas, helps family caregivers prioritize time for self-care. Our skilled dementia care team can offer exceptional care, day or night, while you take the time away you need. Call us at 410-357-9640 for a complimentary in-home assessment to find out more.