The Cleveland Clinic defines caregiver burnout as a state of “physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion,” which can negatively impact your ability to continue caring for your loved one. When caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, it’s essential to learn how to cope with daily challenges, protect your own health and avoid burnout.
Here are five tips from the Alzheimer’s Association to help you manage the demands of caregiving and avoid burnout.
1. Prioritize Your Health
Caregivers often get caught up in monitoring the health of their loved ones, and they neglect their own health. If you get too sick and rundown to care for your spouse or family member, their health could also suffer. See your doctor annually and be attentive to your health. If you have a cough or aches and pains that linger, be sure to tell your physician. Don’t ignore a persistent headache or chronic sleeplessness. Report any unusual symptoms to your doctor and prioritize your health and well-being.
2. Eat Well and Exercise
Making sure your diet is healthy and balanced like you do for your loved one will help you maintain your energy levels and overall strength. Take time for regular physical exercise, and don’t skip meals or resort to the drive-thru. Instead, plan to eat the same healthy meals you serve your loved one and find small breaks in the day when a loved one is napping to get in a few minutes of yoga or stream a workout class. There are also ways you can be active with the person with dementia like going for a walk together, doing seated exercises at home, or dancing in the living room.
3. Manage Stress
You cannot avoid stress entirely, but you don’t have to let it overwhelm you. One of the best stress relievers is to give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can and deserve time for yourself! Constant stress leads to poor mental and physical health and can cause your loved one to feel stressed, too. For both your sakes’ find ways to relax and unwind every day.
4. Accept Things for What They Are
Alzheimer’s and dementia are progressive, and you cannot change or control that. All you can do is your best and not feel guilty that you should be doing more. Your loved one’s needs are going to change, and a day may come when you can no longer care for them at home. Accepting this and planning for when that time comes will give you peace of mind about their future. A memory care community like Sopris Lodge at Carbondale provides families guidance and information to begin their memory care search and holds events to share resources so caregivers realize they are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help and support.
5. Ask for Help
No matter how hard you try, you cannot do everything by yourself. You will need help sometimes. Family members, neighbors, church members, or in-home care providers are people you can, and should, reach out to for help now and then. Another good option to explore is short-term respite care. At Sopris Lodge, we provide a quality respite care solution for caregivers’ temporary needs. Whether you need a few days off for a family vacation, a work trip or just to recharge, our furnished apartments offer a safe, comfortable environment with 24/7 care staff, life-enrichment activities, and all the comforts of home.
Respite care is also an excellent way to prepare yourself and your loved one for the time when their needs may be better served in a memory care community. Becoming aware of local resources and exploring options ahead of time, can help make the transition easier for you and your loved one.
At Sopris Lodge at Carbondale, we help families find the best living situation to meet their loved one’s needs. Call 970-876-6008 or visit soprislodge.com if you have questions about our memory care program or respite care services.