Caring for an Alzheimer’s Disease patient or any loved one who is ill is not just time consuming, but it is stressful. So before I give you tips on how to care for them, you need to know how to care for YOU! If you do not take care of yourself, you will not give the best care to your loved one.
Warning Signs of Burnout
- Trouble getting organized
- Crying for no reason
- Short tempered
- Feeling of numbness or emotionless
- Difficulty accomplishing everyday tasks
- Feeling constantly pressured for time
- Feeling you cannot do anything right
- Feeling you have no time for yourself
If you have any of those signs, please STOP and follow these tips:
- Get enough rest– use sleeping pills as a last resort! If you have trouble falling asleep, try relaxation exercises, a warm bath or shower, reading, or listening to soft music before bed.
- Increase physical activity– If you had an exercise program before you were a caregiver, resume it. If not, start one. Find someone to stay with Mom or Dad while you attend an exercise class, go for a walk, or go to a gym. Strenuous exercise will also assist in your sleep habits.
- Eat well!– You hear it all the time from the experts, but a well balanced diet will not only keep your energy up, it will also help your immune system so you can resist illness better. If you get ill, who will take care of you…and Mom or Dad?
- Don’t try to be superhuman!– Delegate tasks or hire people to help with housework, shopping, laundry, etc…
- Confide in someone– My best therapy before and even after my mom died was walking for an hour or so with my neighbor. We not only got exercise, but we were able to listen to each others’ problems and offer advise.
My next column will offer tips on caring for Alzheimer’s patients. A special shout out to Louise Thompson from the Alzheimer’s Association who will be speaking with our staff in February!