Dementia Caregiver: Taking Care of Yourself

Caring for someone with dementia is a stressful and exhausting situation – even more so if the person with dementia is a relative or loved one. It is a 24-hour, nonstop position of great responsibility. And when a dementia caregiver becomes exhausted, they can make some rash decisions. Therefore, the caregiver needs to maintain good physical and mental health for the patient and caretaker’s best interest.

Dementia Caregiver Support – Support Yourself Too!

Many caregivers think it is selfish to put themselves ahead of the person they care for and often feel guilty for taking time for themselves. As a result, they jeopardize their health and rationalize it as a selfless dedication to their charge. But the fact is when the health and energy gauge is below empty, a caregiver cannot give their best to their patient. When people keep going on empty for days, weeks, or months, serious mistakes are made. So, what does one do?

Everyone has a choice: one can either feel helpless or act. To be a better caregiver, make it a priority to take care of yourself.

Make Time for Yourself Daily

First, get it through your head that taking time for yourself is healthy. Regularly taking even a few minutes for yourself can keep you calmer and less stressed. It’s an excellent time to clear your head and relax. How you accomplish that can vary. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Go for a walk
  • Read a favorite book or magazine
  • Cook a treat for yourself
  • Meditate (or more simply merely do some breathing exercises)
  • Call a friend
  • Write in a journal
  • Do something creative that you enjoy (write, paint, sew, knit, etc.)

Select something you enjoy doing that doesn’t frustrate you. Try to be a little selfish and do something that only benefits you.

Schedule Respite Time

Also, at least monthly, schedule some respite time away from your caregiver duties, even if this means getting another person to come in and take over tasks. Take a few hours or several days to destress. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Pamper yourself with a massage, manicure, or pedicure
  • See a movie, play, or concert
  • Go to a favorite restaurant or try a new one
  • Visit a museum or a historical site
  • Take a scenic drive in the countryside or through a park)
  • Travel

Again, select something that you enjoy. The whole idea is to spend some time not thinking about your caregiver’s tasks. The energy you regain from this time away will allow you to face your duties with a calmer demeanor.

Eat Well

Healthy habits help support a healthy mind and body. And the top two healthy habits are diet and exercise. Both of these often go out the window in stressful situations, but they are essential. Many people who are busy or under stress tend to skip meals. Since a caretaker often prepares meals for their patient, use the time to plan and eat healthy meals. If meal planning or shopping is an issue, look into meal services that remove those issues.

Don’t Make Excuses

Don’t make excuses about caring for yourself. It’s easy to say you don’t have the time or energy. The truth is, if you take care of yourself, you’ll have more energy and will be more efficient with your thinking and tasks, creating a situation that is good for you and great for your patient.

Dr Liz Geriatrics

Are you a caregiver for a senior with dementia? Dr Liz Geriatrics has information to assist you. We are dedicated to dementia caregiver support. For more information, contact us today at 650-357-8834 x1. We are ready to help. If you need more online advice or blogs to read, learn more about elder caregiving.