Welcome to today’s Wednesday Workshop. If you’re a caregiver, you’ve heard it over and over again, “You have to take care of yourself to be a good caregiver”. It’s because we have heard this so many times, and so many of us have become deaf to the message, that we want to talk about it again today.
Taking care of yourself goes far beyond trying to eat right or exercise and we won’t spend anytime reviewing that today as most of us know this already.
As a caregiver, taking care of yourself also means taking care of your own mental health. Caregivers have an increased risk of suffering from depression and other psychological disorders, many that go untreated. This affects the quality of life of the caregiver, and eventually, affects the quality of life of the patient, who is often institutionalized sooner.
Be sure that you do a quick mental health check on yourself each week. Be aware of any changes in your sleep patterns. If you feel depressed or sad and your symptoms go on for more than 7 days, call your doctor and make an appointment. Depression can be treated and it’s important that you act quickly so that you don’t sink into a deep depression.
Caring for yourself also means taking care of the future. It means carving out the time to make sure that all of you and your loved ones long-term planning has been completed. This might mean meeting with a Care Manager or getting a referral to an elder law attorney. It could mean completing your will or choosing your medical proxy. It’s important that when caring for yourself, you care for your future needs as well. Don’t wait until a crisis.
Caring for yourself means learning that it’s okay to be selfish. It’s important that as a caregiver you learn to say no. No to anything that adds more to your plate in terms of additional stress or anxiety. It means not only learning to say no, but feeling perfectly fine doing it.
Caring for yourself means that you recognize that you don’t have to do it alone. Its knowing that it’s okay to reach out for additional help, support, information or guidance.
When you take good care of yourself, both mentally and physically, you will be better equipped to manage the challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Remember to reach out to us at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center anytime. You are never alone.