Mom was pretty difficult today. She threw a tantrum when it came time for her to take a bath, and she didn’t remember who you were when you went in to wake her up this morning. The Alzheimer’s is only getting worse, and you are feeling run-down and demoralized. You feel all alone, like no one understands your struggle, and you feel sad because the mother who loved you all your life doesn’t know you more days than not now.
Caregiving is not an easy job. You are admirable for taking it on, and for being able to deal with the things that life throws at you, day after day after day. You put all of you energy and effort and time into caring for your aging mother, and that is inspiring… but it isn’t always good for you.
Taking care of your mom or another aging loved one is important, but so are you. In order to be an effective caregiver, you have to take care of yourself too. But how? How can you justify taking time off from caring for your mother who needs you? How can you fit any sort of relaxation into a day full of cooking, cleaning, and assisting your aging parent in their daily tasks?
First, take a deep breath. You can balance everything, and you can start by giving yourself five minutes to just breathe. When your mother is resting, or maybe if someone else is keeping an eye on her, go to a quiet room and sit or lie down. Take a deep breath in, then let it out slowly, letting go of all of the stress and tension you have built up. Continue to breathe this way for the next five minutes, focusing as much as possible on your breath instead of your worries; focusing on you and only you. Then, when the five minutes is up, you can go back to what you were doing before, only this time, you will feel much calmer and more relaxed.
Another way you can manage the stress of caregiving is to have a support system. Have a group of friends you can talk to about caregiving, or about anything you want to talk about, and let your family know that you could use their support. You may also consider going to see a therapist or counselor to tell them about how you feel. This is an especially good idea if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your friends or loved ones for fear of what they might think of you. A therapist has heard it all, and will reassure you that you are not the first person to feel this way.
Diet and exercise are also important, not just for your aging loved one, but for you. A healthy diet and regular physical activity will keep your mind and body strong, which will help you to feel better both physically and mentally.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that, while taking care of your aging loved one is important, you are important too. You must take care of yourself, not just for your loved one, but for all of the people who love you.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Lawrenceville, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.
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