Putting the Spotlight on Caregivers in November
Helpful tips for dedicated caregivers
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver Month, and while Alzheimer’s disease is billed first, caregivers and their efforts are no less an important thing to recognize. There are roughly 15 million people in the US who provide care for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and it’s important to acknowledge the difficult-yet-important work they do.
Caregiver burnout is a very real risk to those providing care, so we are providing a list of tips that can help you get the support you need while caring for someone you love:
- Talk about it: Being a caregiver can be frustrating and stressful, so find a friend, family member or other person you trust who will listen
- Join a support group: Talking to a trusted friend is a great way to help release stress, but sharing your experiences and frustrations with someone in the same situation can help you manage stress, develop coping tools and keep from feeling alone.
- Take advantage of professionals’ knowledge: Be they a counselor, priest or social worker, make the most of the people who are trained to help you deal with adverse situations
- Develop & maintain healthy habits: Nutrition, exercise and sleep are important, but avoiding harmful habits like tobacco or excessive drinking are vital as well
- Set realistic goals for care: You’re only human. Even though you may feel the need to give 110%, this may compromise your ability to provide care in the long run
- Be realistic about your limits: If you need help, ask for it. When it comes to burnout, it’s easier to not go there than to get back
- Accept your feelings: It’s only human to have feelings such as anger or irritation, but caregivers need to understand where these negative feelings come from and that it doesn’t make them a bad person.
- Use respite care: There are services designed specifically to help relieve your burden by caring for your loved one for a short time, either at home or in a facility
- Understand the disease and its progression: Needs will change, so it’s important to be realistic about what is required at what stage
- Get your “you” time: Even if it’s just for an hour or two, getting away for a few hours to care for your own needs is a necessity, not a luxury
- Learn new tools for coping: Laughing, meditating or reading are just a few tools that can help keep you grounded. Find what works for you.
If you have a friend or family member who could benefit from these caregiver tips, please share this page and then head over to the Alzheimer’s Association’s page to add a personal tribute to their efforts.