It can be hard caring for a senior or loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Not only is it time-consuming, but it can be mentally and physically draining. Burnout is common among caregivers of those with Alzheimer's, but it can be avoided by taking the proper precautions. Here is a list of some things you can do to minimize your risk of burnout.
1. Know (and Use) Your Resources
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's may feel stressful and lonely, but it is important to know you are not alone. There are many people in the same situation and there are tons of resources available. Whether it involves support in the community through therapy groups, meal programs, in-home assistance, or help from other people, you should never feel ashamed of using these resources.
2. Seek Help Where and When You Need It
One person can only manage so much and it is healthy to recognize where your limits are. You cannot do everything yourself, so when you need help, ask for it. Whether you need help caring for your loved one or just need a break, there is no shame in asking for help. Often family members and others can lessen the burden on yourself, helping you from becoming completely drained.
3. Stay Active
Exercising or daily activity has tremendous benefits on a person's general well-being. It is not just good for weight and physical wellness, but it's wonderful for relieving stress. As a caregiver, you should always take time out to move around. Consider walking or jogging each day to relieve stress and improve your mood throughout the day. You may also consider getting involved with relaxation/exercise techniques like meditation, yoga, or martial arts.
4. Take Care of You
It is very easy to forget about yourself when caring for a senior with Alzheimer's disease. While you work on diffusing their anxiety and agitation, you might not address your own. Your loved one may require so much care and attention, that providing yourself with the same level of care seems selfish. It is not selfish to take time for yourself. In fact, by taking care of yourself, you are in a better position (and health) to take care of others.
When you need a break, take one. Treat yourself to stress-free activities which will brighten your mood and relax you.
5. Plan for the Future
Much of caring for seniors involves the anxiety a caregiver feels regarding the unknown. It can be helpful for your (and your loved one's) stress levels to address concerns and plan ahead for them. Take time to organize paperwork, finances, and make plans for the possibilities of the future. By eliminating some of the unknown factors of the future, you and your loved one will have less to stress about each day.
Caregiving can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Caregivers are at risk for the harmful health effects of caregiver stress but there are ways to manage it. To find out more download our free caregiver stress fact sheet.