When you are the person in charge of someone else’s care, and that person has dementia — and is your parent — life feels more stressful than usual. Being a child of a parent with dementia is difficult on so many different levels. Not only do you have to consider that you are losing the parent you knew, you have to make sure that you look after yourself, too.
Dementia can be incredibly hard for the person who is dealing with it, but also takes its toll on the caregivers. These people have their own lives, jobs, families, and friendships that too often suffer because of the need and importance of caring for a parent with dementia.
The good news is that there are strategies out there to help you find time to practice self-care while you are caring for a parent with dementia. From a few minutes per day to a significant amount of time away, you can ensure that you get some time to yourself. Here are some ideas to help you practice more self-care.
Take Care of Your Own Health
Caring for an aging loved one with dementia should shine a spotlight on the importance of personal health. As a caregiver, it may be easier to skip out on exercise to save time, or to eat whatever’s fastest, but remember that your loved one’s care also depends on your own wellness — and that you’ll have a life after your loved one is gone too.
Try to hold yourself to drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet, and exercising several times a week. Keep up with your regularly scheduled doctor and dentist appointments, and with any other health routines that you need to support your health.
Get Some Mental Time for Yourself
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Taking care of yourself mentally starts with simply taking some time for yourself — this is not time to run your own errands, but rather time to actually do something you enjoy. If you find yourself unable to find time for, or unable to enjoy activities that used to give you pleasure, that’s even more of a sign that something is off and you might need to look more deeply into your own mental health.
Lean On Others
You don’t have to do all of this alone, despite what you may believe. Many times, caregivers simply take too much time away from their own lives to care for their loved one. Draw a line, and then figure out where else you can get help.
One great idea is to outsource as many of the laborious activities you currently do for your loved one, and leave the activities that are actually quality time.
For example, if you currently clean your parent’s home yourself, consider hiring cleaners to come in weekly. Can you outsource grocery shopping for your loved one (and maybe even for yourself?) Landscaping, home repairs, and cooking are also tasks that can be successfully outsourced to save you time.
Consider Additional Care
Dementia is a progressive condition, and sooner or later, you will find yourself unable to care for your loved one to an extent that allows both of you to thrive. It’s only a matter of time, so prepare yourself. And that’s ok!
The idea of having someone else take care of your parent, part time or full time might take some getting used to. But having the right care provider can help immensely. Our unique program, Embrace, Memory Care At Home, is carefully designed to give families the support they need. We go beyond basic care, focusing on addressing each person with dementia’s unique needs and providing them with engaging activities on a daily basis.
Each member of our team is trained, informed, and supported and our program incorporates the latest and most innovative research on memory care, dementia care models, program leadership, and caregiver training.
If you’re not sure whether your loved one is at a stage where you might benefit from extra help, start by taking our 5 Minute Home Care Quiz, which will help you score your loved one’s well-being on 6 different parameters and make a recommendation on their care needs.