Did you know that November is recognized as National Family Caregivers Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month?
The combination of these two points of awareness makes perfect sense, since providing care to a family member with Alzheimer’s can involve more stress and strain than providing care for other conditions. This is also a perfect month to start practicing more self-care and compassion for yourself, and these tips can help.
3 Things Alzheimer’s Caregivers Should Know
- Opting for a Memory Care Facility Doesn’t Mean You Care Any Less
- Caring for Yourself Can Make You a Better Alzheimer’s Caregiver
- Sharing Your Stresses and Worries With Others Doesn’t Make You Weak
Caring for a loved one in your own home requires compassion. Compassion fatigue, however, can a big risk for family caregivers. So it’s important to know when memory care is needed. When providing Alzheimer’s care has become too overwhelming for you, knowing where to look for quality memory care can help ease any guilt or worry you have about transitioning your loved one to this sort of facility, which will provide specialized care and activities for seniors who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As long as you compare and tour centers to find the right one for your loved one, you can rest assured that the day-to-day care provided will be safe and compassionate. In Chicago, Alzheimer’s care facilities can run $1,500 to $13,000 each month, which is another good reason to really weigh each option. Because Alzheimer’s patients will need various levels of care at different stages, it’s crucial to budget for the costs of care. In the beginning stages of this disease, seniors may only need assistance with simple tasks, like dressing and bathing, but those care needs will progress along with the disease.
Opting for memory care can give you more time to care for yourself, which is the best way to prevent caregiver burnout and fatigue. You need access to healthy foods, exercise, and self-care to stay healthy, and you need to stay healthy in order to continue upholding your responsibilities as a family caregiver. Self-care can include taking time for mindful meditation or breath work, but it can also include more active practices, like going out for daily walks or taking a regular yoga class.
If you are a senior who is looking after another senior, you may want to reach out to a private insurance provider like Aetna and ask about Medicare Advantage plans, which can provide coverage for wellness plans. This coverage, which includes access to fitness programs, fitness classes and outdoor activities, can help older adults stay motivated to stay active and healthy. Plus, the additional social interactions found in gyms and fitness classes can provide some added benefits to overall health and emotional well-being.
Providing Alzheimer’s care can be a physically and emotionally draining task for family caregivers, especially if they are providing that care on their own. Getting help with Alzheimer’s care, whether it’s through in-home assistance or memory care, can reduce some of these negative health impacts, but it’s equally important to build a network of support. Socializing with others in your Silver Sneakers programs can be a good start, but you also need to seek out compassionate social support in other ways.
If you do not feel comfortable leaning on family and friends, consider looking for Alzheimer’s support groups, where you can connect with people who better understand what you’re going through. You may be able to meet with these groups in person or online, depending on your location and preferences. Finally, don’t forget to practice some self-compassion as well, by treating yourself with the same kindness you reserve for friends.
Being a family caregiver can be hard enough, but being a caregiver for a senior with Alzheimer’s can be especially difficult. That’s why it’s important to allow yourself the same compassion you would your loved one, and to treat yourself with kindness by taking better care of your health and well-being. After all, you deserve to be happy after all of the sacrifices you have made.
Lydia Chan (Guest Contributor)
About: After her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Lydia Chan struggled to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She founded Alzheimer’s Caregiver as an online resource for fellow caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia writes articles about a range of caregiving topics.
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