Being the caregiver to a loved one diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be a challenge. It requires a solid relationship with your loved one and with your loved one’s doctor. Caregiving can require a lot of time, energy, research and communication.
Especially with a new diagnosis, it’s not uncommon to feel frustrated, stressed out and anxious. But, none of these are reasons to feel guilty. Every caregiver experiences these feelings from time to time. By using coping techniques, you can learn to manage your role as a caregiver while still finding the strength to be an adult child, friend and companion for your loved one.
5 Coping Strategies for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
First, try to identify when you are starting to feel frustrated. These symptoms are red flags that mean you should step back and adjust your approach before you lose your ability to think clearly. Some things to look out for include shortness of breath, headache, lack of patience, fatigue, stomach cramps or an increased heartbeat.
In order to avoid these symptoms of extreme frustration and anger, it’s important to implement some coping strategies to prevent things from escalating to the point of lashing out. It’s not healthy for you and it’s not helpful for your loved one.
Try these techniques for dealing with dementia as a caregiver:
- Change focus. When you feel that you’re not making progress with your loved one, it’s important to just step away and change focus. Cook dinner, go for a walk, meditate or call a friend before attempting to approach the situation again. Remember, there will be good and bad days when it comes to being a caregiver and there’s nothing wrong with stepping back when you feel overwhelmed.
- Accept that you can’t be perfect. You may want to fix things for your loved one. But once you accept that you can only do so much, you’ll start to take some of the pressure off yourself and think more clearly. No one can be a perfect caregiver all the time, and you have the right to some off days. It’s all part of the journey.
- Don’t add unnecessary stress to a situation. You want to be honest with your loved one at all times, but when they are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, sometimes the truth can be more than they can handle. If there’s no harm in what your loved one believes, it’s okay if it’s not 100% accurate. Use your judgment when it comes to each situation and handle it in a way that will cause the least amount of distress for your loved one.
- Engage in self-care. While it may seem selfish to take care of yourself when your loved one is suffering, self-care is a necessary part of caregiving. You are not going to be of any help to them if you are sick. Not only will taking some time for self-care help prevent burnout, it will also help you nurture other important relationships in your life.
- Accept help when it’s offered. There’s no reason to be a martyr when it comes to caring for your loved one. It doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders. In fact, it’s healthier for you and your loved one to have some time apart from one another. Create a healthier balance for yourself by asking others to assist you along the way.
Quality Assisted Living and Memory Care at Peregrine Senior Living
You don’t have to carry the burden of caregiving for a loved one with dementia alone. Peregrine Senior Living offers an enriching aging experience for our residents in our assisted living and memory care communities. Our life-affirming culture sets us apart and helps our residents find continued growth, exploration and learning by focusing on what remains instead of what was lost.