Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be an all-consuming task.
And, unfortunately, one of the first things most caregivers neglect is themselves.
If you’ve cared for someone with dementia, it’s easy to understand why this is. Making time for self-reflection and/or personal improvement is a huge challenge when you’re always taking care of someone else.
In this article, we’ll look at three commitments that caregivers need to make to themselves and why it’s important to do so.
But first, let’s take a look at who a caregiver is, what the job entails, and common challenges caregivers face.
Providing Emotional Support
Caring for someone with dementia means providing a lot of physical and logistical support for your loved one. This includes things like meal preparation, laundry, transportation to appointments, and reminding them to take their medicine.
But providing emotional support is a big part of the job too. In fact, research from the Pew Research found 68% of adult family caregivers say they give emotional support to their aging parents.
Caregiving is a Long-term, Full-time Responsibility
One memory study found that the primary family caregiver spends an average of 9 hours a day providing care for their loved one with dementia.
An AARP study found that almost 25% of family caregivers spends 41+ hours a week providing care.
And it’s a long term arrangement too. Family caregivers typically spend 1 – 4 years caring for their loved one.
Caregivers Have Other Responsibilities
The average caregiver is middle-aged, with a career and/or family of their own. The average family caregiver in the U.S. is 49 years old. And 42% of them are providing memory care or other senior care services for a parent.
Other Challenges of Caring for Someone with Dementia
The above gives us a clearer picture of who family caregivers are and the role they assume. And it makes it easier for us to see some of the challenges they face.
Providing care for a loved one is not only time consuming but can be expensive. Travelling. Time spent away from work or children. It can all take a toll. The emotional and physical difficulties of providing memory care can be overwhelming.
3 Caregiver Commitments to Make To Yourself
So with that in mind, let’s look at 3 commitments we recommend caregivers make to themselves. These can help them better deal with the demands of caregiving. And, ultimately, help them provide better care of their loved one.
- Make YOUR mental and physical health a priority
Family caregivers are loving, compassionate, and often selfless people. However, always caring for others can lead to neglect of yourself.
Remember: you can only help others if you are at your best.
So prioritize your mental wellness. Some ways to do this include:
- Building a support system.
- Knowing when to ask for help.
- Seeking a therapist to help you cope with stress.
- Promote physical wellness by getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.
- Spend quality time with loved ones
As a caregiver, especially to a parent or other family member, it can be hard to separate your caregiving responsibilities from your relationship.
So spend quality time connecting with a loved one through an activity, exercise, or trip. And approach this time as a son, daughter, sister, or friend – not as a caregiver.
Many Alzheimer’s facilities and senior centers offer adult day programs. This lets families interact while professionals provide care assistance. Spending quality time takes you both out of the daily care routine and can be very beneficial.
- Plan for future care
If you provide memory care for an aging parent, there will come a time when you are no longer able to offer the care and support they need on your own. As Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms advance, seniors will need more specialized care. Researching memory care facilities near you can help you reduce stress now and in the future.
While you cannot predict what will happen, understanding the options and support resources available to you and your family will be helpful no matter what the future holds.
To find a memory care facility near you, search our listings here…