Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver can be a stressful profession. Not only will you want to fulfill the expected duties of a caregiver but you also have to deal with patients with special needs, such as those with Alzheimer. Caregiving can be a daunting task, so if you are a caregiver it’s normal to feel stressed and fatigued. This is natural as Caregiving is strenuous task, however you should always remember to give yourself time to recover. Remember that you can only do so much.
So here are 5 ways on how you can help reduce stress and increase your resilience as an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
The first step is to admit that you are having caregiver burnout. If you are experiencing the feeling of isolation and helplessness and are always tired or low in energy, then you are experiencing burnout. Don’t worry as this is normal for those who are caring for elderly patients as well as those who are suffering from a terminal illness or people with special needs. If you don’t acknowledge that you are having a caregiver burnout then it might lead into more problems which may not only be bad for you but for your senior as well.
The second step is to express your feelings. It is understandable that caring a senior with Alzheimer requires patience and with that patience you end up repressing certain feelings, words and actions in order to not offend or scare them off. According to clinical psychologists, whenever we identify or point out what makes us stressed, our body activates our prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for our rational thinking. Stress often shuts this part of the brain down, that’s why it is hard to think rationally during a fight-or-flight situation.
One of the best ways to do this is to find your own support group. Seniors are not the only one who needs someone to talk to. Caregivers also need to vent out from time to time. Another way is to keep a journal. It is more private and extremely cathartic especially for those with high stress levels. However, don’t just write negatives; always include the positive side of things. Sometimes we think that keeping our feelings to ourselves prevents us from looking weak in front of others. However, bottling things inside is not good for the health, especially if you are full of negative emotions. Furthermore, such action makes us more susceptible to losing self-control both in actions and feelings which can prove to be bad if you unexpectedly lose your top at your senior.
The third step is to also spend time caring for your own self. As a caregiver, most of the time we are focused on caring others but this leaves us little time for our own care. Don’t neglect yourself! You are not a robot that can be given mechanical; book-dictated care nor are you a super-powered human who could do anything without breaking a sweat. You also need to recharge your ”batteries” or else you’ll be the one who needs care. Make sure that you get ample sleep, a balanced diet and a day off. Sure you may feel guilty for going on a shopping spree or a movie out for one day but giving yourself sometime to rest and to relax keeps you happy.
Meditation is also a good way to care for your own self. Meditating for just 5-7 minutes a day already reaps quite an amount of benefits from patients to increased mindfulness. If you think meditation is not for you then you can try to exercise your stress away. Aside from eating healthy, one cannot simply forgo exercise. What’s great about this is that you can also spend quality time with your senior by exercising with them.