myALZteam launched in December 2015 with 500 members and has grown into a community of 42,000 caregivers! We are the online social network and online support group for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Caring for a loved one is stressful, tiring, frustrating, and also a very important and much-needed role. It is a job that you learn on the go. There is no ‘right’ way, and it is a responsibility that requires constant adjustments. Most caregivers will also tell you, it is a role that comes with a lot of judgment.
As a caregiver, I can attest to putting myself on the back burner many times. The more I did it, the more everyone suffered. I would feel extreme guilt for wanting to see my friends, go to a movie or just have some me-time. Outsiders always seemed to think I wasn’t doing enough or doing it right, however very few were willing to show up and help.
What I have learned in my years of caregiving is that you cannot be an advocate for your loved one if you are not taking time for yourself. You are important. Your health is important. You have to put on your oxygen mask first before you can assist someone else.
The National Alliance for Caregiving found that more than half of all caregivers say they do not have time to take care of themselves, and just under half said they if they do, they are too tired to do so.
It is important for family caregivers to find their own semblance of a “normal” routine to help nourish their self and create some type of balance. This will vary from individual to individual. You have every right to focus on yourself at times while being the ringleader in this circus called caregiving.
Below are some ideas to help ease the pressures caregivers are under:
The goal of these self-care tips is to allow you to be more patient, less frustrated, and less resentful. Without these small recharging moments, the caregiving role can have the capacity to burn you out and leave you sick, depleted and unable to care for the one you love.
It is important to remember that caregiving does have its upsides too. There is an intimacy and deep bond that occurs with family caregivers that is not present in any facility. You have the opportunity to exchange stories, learn lessons about life, and feel a deeper love when that loved one recognizes that you are there for them and only them.
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