Time is NOT on your side when you’re responsible for the health and safety of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. You may feel like you’re on a treadmill, constantly attending to this person’s needs, but not at all tending to your most basic ones—like actually working out on an actual treadmill. The lack of time for self-care is magnified if you have other responsibilities piled on top, such as a job and/or your own family and pets to tend to. Before you have a total meltdown, consider a self-imposed intervention.
To get started back on a path to good self-care, pinpoint a couple of the things in your way. And remember, if you are the primary or secondary caregiver to someone with dementia, you can’t sit back and wait for someone to say they will cover for you or give you a break. This is less likely to happen if you are doing a competent job. Others may think, you’ve got this. But in reality, you don’t, so you have to open your mouth and ask for help. Line it up and take a moment to regroup and recharge.
Start with small mental breaks, such as walks and creative jaunts or chats on the phone with dear friends. When you are walking or exercising more regularly, it could be an optimal time to work through your feelings about all the responsibilities on your plate. Maybe you volunteered to be a caregiver or maybe you felt compelled to take on the role because no one else would or could. Work on releasing any resentment and focus on the positives of your caretaking role. Yes, there are positives. Come up with three, and then write them down.
Now, let’s work on getting solid help with some of your caregiving tasks. Things you can delegate are bathing, laundry and meal prep. Then you can partake in activities that make you feel more centered, such as yoga. Last but not least, make sure you are making doctor appointments for yourself and that you keep your health a priority.
For some additional caregiver resources and articles, consider: