Help for Caregivers of People With Dementia

Giving care is emotionally and physically exhausting. Many people become overwhelmed and so stressed that they may have worse health than the one they are caring for. Even though you may feel guilty, you need to give time for yourself. I did not do as good a job of this as I should have. I forgot to remember how many people were depending on me to stay healthy and I let myself get worn down so that I had a six-month fungal pneumonia. Don't let that happen to you! Here are some things to remember:

  1. Go to your regular doctor, dental and eye appointments. Your medical advisers will help you keep healthy. Be sure to tell them about your caregiving tasks and take their advice about how to make sure you are healthy.
  2. Take time every day for yourselfto relax and do something you really enjoy like reading, going for a walk, shopping or calling a friend.
  3. Take a breakevery day.Aim for a short period every day, and at least one longer period once a week. If your loved one can't be left alone, get help. Look for help from neighbors, other family members, church friends, hospice or community volunteers. Don't tell people you are "fine." If they offer to help, then tell them what you need. If you don't have people who will volunteer to help, then hire someone to come at least once a week to watch your loved one while you get away to do something else.
  4. Keep Up Your Personal Interests:If you have a hobby, you may not feel you have time to keep on doing it, but you can still subscribe to a magazine about it to read. Or, if possible, continue your hobby or interest, even if you have to do it less often. You will feel less stress if you have something else to think about.
  5. Don't Neglect Friends: It is very easy to become isolated and feel you have nothing to contribute to a friendship. As a matter of fact, all that you are learning about giving care is very valuable to others, who may need your advice later. Moreover, as you care for someone with memory loss you often become very sensitive to the thoughts and needs of others expressed in gestures rather than words. You are becoming a more astute friend in the process. Let your friends comfort you, give you a place to laugh, and a place to remember you are loved.

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