There is no such thing as a “regular day” for someone with dementia – or, for the individual providing their care. The senior may unexpectedly go from enjoying activities, laughing, and singing to sullen, angry, and aggressive. They could get caught in tearful repetitions of wanting to go “home.” They might pace and wander. Sleep may be difficult, or it may be all they wish to do.
It’s a great honor to care for a senior in your life with dementia; yet if we are candid, it can also be very daunting and demanding. Our Alzheimer’s disease care professionals are here to help you, however, with the following ways to combat stress and restore peace, calm, and mental wellness to family caregivers.
First and foremost, build a network of support. It’s just not possible to care for someone you love with dementia on your own. Time for self-care is a must for your own personal health in addition to that of the senior in your care. When family and friends ask how they can assist, provide them with tangible examples of what you need. This might be someone to spend an afternoon each week with the senior to play games, reminisce, engage in hobbies or exercise, etc. Perhaps preparing meals or helping with housework and laundry would be a welcome relief. Or maybe it’s a ride to church or social outings each weekend. Then graciously welcome the assistance offered.
Additionally, sign up for a support group (either online or in person) for dementia caregivers. You’ll find others who can sympathize with your challenges and offer tried-and-true approaches that can help. Just knowing you have a network of people to consult who understand can bring incredible comfort.
Spend your downtime prudently. Once you have the assistance of others, take full advantage of your time to step away from providing care by engaging in activities that will help you relax and de-stress. Some ideas to help you get started include:
- Relaxation tactics such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, prayer, meditation, etc.
- Working out in whatever form is most satisfying for you: walking, mowing the lawn, working in the garden, swimming, etc.
- Being outdoors, where the fresh air and sunshine can help soothe any tension you are feeling; grab a good book and some lemonade and settle onto the porch swing
Take care of your health care needs. You may get so swept up in making sure your senior family member’s medical appointments are kept that your own have taken a back seat. Schedule time for a regular examination and any other tests or procedures you have been putting off. Don’t forget your mental health as well. If your stress level feels overwhelming, talk with a professional counselor for help.
Looking for more ways to combat stress? Home With You Senior Care is a trusted provider of senior care in Howard County, MD and the surrounding areas, helping family care providers make time for self-care. Our experienced dementia care team can offer outstanding care, day or night, as you take the time off you need. Call us at 410-756-0959 for a free in-home assessment to learn more.