One of the first things I stress to the care partners of people with dementia is that being a care partner can be a true gift. You are being of service to another human being who needs your help. There are fewer things that could be considered more important.
But caregiving is difficult. Even if you have accepted the task (that can take time), and even if you find it rewarding, it still can be exhausting, both mentally and physically.
So you have to take care of yourself, too. You can’t help someone else if you’re not making time to rest and recharge. This isn’t easy, either. But if you don’t acknowledge the need for self care, the results can be disastrous—to yourself and your person with dementia.
Here are some suggestions that can help with your self care, and help you cope when things become difficult.
- Look for “escapes,” even if you have to stay in one location. These can be things as simple as reading a book or magazine, watching a TV show, or working on a craft.
- Work some of your pleasures into routines. That might include listening to music or trying a new recipe when preparing a meal.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s almost a paradox to stress the need for routine for persons with dementia, and then say “don’t worry if little things go wrong.” But they will go wrong, and it’s important to know that. Things not going to plan isn’t a sign of failure, particularly if the person you care for is doing well overall. Give yourself credit for the things that go right.
- Think about gratitude. We’re not suggesting you be grateful for having to deal with a cruel disease, but it can be very valuable to acknowledge gratitude for caring for someone in need, and to give yourself credit for it. This is a reminder of why you are doing this, either as a professional who is devoting time to others, or as a family member taking responsibility for another.
Our training programs for both professional and family care partners focus on a proven Positive Approach To Care curriculum developed by Teepa Snow, which includes detailed information on self care.
To learn more, click here.