Tips for Prioritizing Self-Care as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
by Lydia Chan
Photo via Rawpixel
November is National Family Caregivers Month, so this is the perfect time to direct some of your attention towards your own health and wellbeing. Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s can be very emotionally taxing and overwhelming. Since caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s is one of the more stressful care situations, spouses, adult children, friends, and neighbors can suffer from caregiver burnout if they’re not careful.
Try to make self-care a priority in your life to safeguard your mental, physical, and social health. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Tend to Your Physical Health
Keeping your health in top shape will help you maintain the physical energy and mental stamina you need to handle your caregiving responsibilities. Carve out time in your life to tend your health. If you’re a senior, evaluate your healthcare coverage to ensure it’s meeting your needs.
Keep Yourself Properly Nourished
Proper nutrition is another important way to maintain your health as a caregiver. Make sure your diet includes all of the essential nutrients you need for lasting energy and strength. Lean protein, vegetables and fruits, and whole grains should play a primary role in most of your meals. You may also want to supplement your diet with a good multivitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps and boost your daytime energy. According to Plexus Worldwide, you can benefit from the balanced nutrition in a good multivitamin even if you eat healthy and exercise.
Since it can be tempting to order takeout or snag fast food when you’re strapped for time, find ways to make cooking faster and easier. Learn healthy weeknight recipes and do meal-prep on weekends. Joyful Healthy Eats recommends several healthy recipes that come together in just 30 minutes, like sheet-pan chicken and veggies. If you must eat on the run, look to healthier selections from the frozen aisle, like grilled chicken options and veggie burritos.
Find Personal Time for Relaxing Activities
Find ways to engage in rejuvenating activities that you enjoy. PickTheBrain claims that you can rejuvenate your mind and body in just 5 minutes. So if that’s all you got, use it! Take a few deep breaths, sit in silence, smile to yourself, or stretch out your muscles.
If you’ve got the time, take a walk in the woods. Spending time surrounded by nature can reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of depression. You may also enjoy a hot bath, going for coffee with an old friend, or sitting down with a good book.
When it comes to our health, sleep is just as important as eating well and exercising. Sleep deprivation can affect your emotional stability, memory, and ability to focus, putting both you and the senior you’re caring for at risk. Unfortunately, finding time to sleep as a caregiver can be challenging. Even when you get a chance to lay down, caregiving-related stress can make it hard to relax. Developing a consistent bedtime routine may help cue your brain for sleep and calm your nerves before bed. You may also benefit from improving your sleep hygiene. For example, try turning off your electronics and avoiding heavy meals late at night.
Ask for Support
It can be a blessing to have people to call on when you need a short break or someone to share your emotions with, so try to develop a caregiver support network. If you don’t have friends or family close by, look for groups in your community or online. If you’re ever feeling unsure about your senior loved one’s needs, seek the advice of a doctor. Your loved one’s doctor can give you recommendations on how to provide care and may even suggest equipment or services you can use to make your job easier.
If you feel like the demands of caregiving are wearing you thin, be proactive about preventing burnout. Incorporate self-care into your schedule to alleviate stress and reduce exhaustion. Not only will this benefit you, but your senior loved one as well!