There’s no such thing as a “typical day” for a senior with dementia – or, for the person caring for them. The senior may unexpectedly go from laughing, singing, and enjoying activities to aggressive, sullen, and angry. They might become caught in tearful repetitions of asking to go “home.” They might pace and wander. Sleep might be elusive, or it might be all they would like to do.
It is a great honor to care for someone in your life with dementia; yet if we are candid, it can also be quite difficult and demanding. Our Alzheimer’s care professionals are here to assist, however, with these vital tips for decreasing stress and restoring peace, calm, and mental wellness to family caregivers.
First off, establish a network of support. It’s not really conceivable to provide care for a person you love with dementia all on your own. Taking time for yourself is essential to your own health as well as that of the senior in your care. When family and friends ask how they can help, provide them with concrete examples of what you need. That could be a friend to spend a day every week with the senior to play games, reminisce, engage in hobbies or exercise, etc. Perhaps helping with housework and laundry or preparing meals would be a welcome relief. Maybe it is a ride to religious services or social outings each weekend. Then graciously welcome the assistance offered.
Additionally, connect with a support group (either online or in person) for dementia caregivers. You will find other people who can empathize with your struggles and offer useful approaches to help. Just knowing you have people to talk to who understand can provide incredible comfort.
Spend your downtime wisely. Once you have the support of others, take full advantage of your time to step away from providing care by engaging in activities so that you can relax and de-stress. A few ideas to help you get started include:
- Relaxation tactics including deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, prayer, meditation, etc.
- Physical exercise in whatever form is most satisfying for you: going for a walk, mowing the lawn, gardening, swimming, etc.
- Being outdoors, where the fresh air and sunshine can help relieve any tension you are experiencing; grab a good book and your favorite beverage and settle onto the porch swing
Tend to your health care needs. You may get so caught up in making sure your senior family member’s doctor appointments are kept that your own have fallen off your radar. Make arrangements for a routine examination and any other tests or treatments you have been postponing. Remember your mental health as well. If your anxiety level feels overwhelming, get in touch with a professional counselor for help.
Live Free Home Health Care is an award-winning provider of Concord home care, helping family members caring for a senior with dementia prioritize time for self-care. Our professional dementia care team offers excellent care, day or night, while you take the time off you need. Call us at 603-217-0149 for a complimentary in-home assessment to find out more. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities we serve.