Receiving a medical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is life-changing—for the person who is diagnosed, obviously, but equally as much for their loved ones. When supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s, it is imperative for family caregivers to allow themselves sufficient time to prepare for the changes to come and to discover a healthy way to work through the diverse emotions that develop.
Because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, one of the difficulties for caregivers is finding peace throughout each stage. It can be beneficial to use reflection as a tool to better deal with the challenges and changes. Heaven at Home Senior Care’s dementia care staff recommend family members try the following strategies:
Relaxing. It’s so important to take time to care for your own emotional health through whatever way is most effective: exercise, meditation or prayer, yoga, music, spending time outdoors or with pets. Taking care of yourself is a gift you give to your loved one; you can only provide the best care when you’re refreshed and strengthened.
Empathizing. Try to step into the other person’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. Envision having difficulties with regular activities that once could be carried out without a second thought. This can help lessen frustrations and allow you to accept and celebrate the successes achieved, no matter how small.
Socializing. Though of course you’re spending plenty of time with the person you’re caring for, make sure to spend time with other family members and friends outside of your caregiving role. Participate in pastimes and hobbies you enjoy, go out for coffee or lunch dates, or any other activities with individuals who bring you joy and elevate your spirits.
Journaling. Keeping a daily journal of experiences, both positive and negative, that you encounter with your loved one, how you responded to those experiences, and what worked or didn’t work, is a fantastic way to both serve as an outlet for your feelings, and to give you encouragement in the later stages of the disease.
Most importantly, understand that supporting a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease requires a network of support, and is never a role that one person can play independently. Partnering with someone skilled in specialized Alzheimer’s care, like the caregiving team at Heaven at Home Senior Care, ensures the best quality of care for the person with dementia by providing necessary time away for family caregivers.