How To: Self-care For Alzheimer’s Caregivers
By Jackie Waters
Approximately 15.7 million U.S. adults serve as a caretaker for someone with Alzheimer’s, many of whom experience severe signs of stress, including anger, social withdrawal, depression, exhaustion, sleeplessness, irritability, lack of concentration, and physical and mental health problems. While taking care of someone is a selfless and charitable act, you have to make sure you don’t lose yourself in the process. Implementing self-care tactics while letting go of some of your responsibilities can help you achieve more balance in your life while still allowing you to look after your loved one.
Outsource Home Maintenance Tasks
If you feel like your house is going to pot because you’re so busy managing your loved one, consider outsourcing tasks (even occasionally if money is an issue) like cooking, landscaping, and house cleaning. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to hire a maid or housekeeper in Cleveland is between $91 and $202. It’s important that you retain a clutter-free home with with Alzheimer’s patients as they tend to have vision problems, so they are more apt to trip and fall if they don’t have proper clearance to walk around. Not to mention, studies indicate that reducing clutter is known to reduce the stress in caregivers and the care recipient.
Develop a Support System
Along with support groups for Alzheimer’s caregivers, don’t be afraid to lean on friends and family during this time. Going to church or joining a gym or yoga studio is a healthy way to meet people while taking care of your mind, body, and spirit at the same time.
Be Mindful of Your Diet
Prevent poor eating habits by taking one day out of the week to plan and prepare healthy meals that you can freeze or eat within a few days. You’re only going to feel worse about yourself if you resort to grab-and-go foods that can cause you to gain weight while losing vital energy.
Tap Into Your Spiritual Self
Being spiritual doesn’t have to mean going to church, but that’s definitely not a bad idea if it’s already something you’re accustomed to doing. Mindful meditation, keeping a gratitude journal, disconnecting from electronic devices for a period of time, and doing something you love every single day can help you make small connections to your higher consciousness.
Get Enough Sleep
Not logging enough shut-eye can have several adverse effects on your health, including weight gain; illness; increased risk for heart issues, diabetes, and cancer; lack of concentration; lower libido; increased risk of accidents; and a negative impact on your appearance. Make it a point to get at least seven to eight hours of regular sleep each night. If you’re having difficulties, try a sleep-inducing, stress-reducing pillow spray made with lavender and sweet orange essential oils. Ambient sounds like waves and rain can also be helpful.
Maintain Hobbies and Interests
While you may not have as much personal time as you used to, it’s important that you continue to engage in hobbies and activities that bring you pleasure. Schedule them into your week so you don’t find an excuse not to read, exercise, knit, etc. Just spending 15 minutes doing something you love can do wonders for the mind.
Research proves the theory that you can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. By enhancing your mind, body, and spirit, you’ll actually have more to give without feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Make it a point to eat well, get enough sleep, meditate, exercise, and do whatever restores your sense of being.
About the Author
Jackie Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com