Coping with Your Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Disease
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. While awareness is brought to those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, the families, loved ones, and caretakers of those with the disease deserve some awareness as well. Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s can put significant physical and emotional strain on a family or a person, so here are some tips to help you and your family take care of yourselves while you take care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease:
Prioritize Self-Care: You may be dedicating most of your time to caring for your loved one, but taking care of yourself is just as important. Be sure to exercise and eat well to keep your body in the best shape it can be, which will help your mental well-being and ability to care for your loved one.
Keep a Journal: Dedicate some time reflect on your emotions and experiences in writing. A journal can also be a great place to write memories of your loved one before Alzheimer’s set in, remembering that this disease isn’t consuming his or her entire person and life.
Share the Responsibility: Talk openly with your family about who can handle what responsibilities so it isn’t all falling on one person. If you’re the only one available to offer care, the Alzheimer’s Association has references to help you find extra care. If you can, take a break every now and then for yourself and let someone else have the responsibility of care for a night or a weekend.
Talk about Your Feelings: Witnessing a loved one mentally deteriorate and having to care for him or her can trigger feelings of grief, resentment, stress, or depression. Check in with your family periodically to discuss and acknowledge these feelings non-judgmentally. Your emotions are as real as your loved one’s disease, and they need recognition. It’s okay to seek out the help of a licensed counselor or psychologist for help with this, especially if stressful emotions turn into anxiety or depression.
Alzheimer’s disease can be a stressful, hard experience for all of those involved. This November, dedicate some time to maintaining your own well-being while you care for your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website at www.alz.org for more resources for finding extra care, tests for your stress and depression that can help you know when to seek outside help, and more information about Alzheimer’s disease.