POV: Four strategies for caregivers

Assess yourself. Caregivers are so often focused on others that they tend to lose touch with their own needs. To become more aware of what is necessary to effectively care for yourself, take a quiet moment to sit down and write a list of the activities and interests that have always helped you feel energized and thrive. Also, consider the various tasks and responsibilities involved in caretaking and determine where you are strongest and weakest, and what you enjoy most and what you don’t enjoy at all. Making this type of list will arm you with the information you need to figure out what help and resources you need to meet your needs and more effectively care for your loved one—and decide what tasks could be turned over to others.

Enlist help. To effectively provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s, you must spread out the workload. Reach out to family, church members, neighbors and friends and ask them to help in areas that you can’t handle. Not everyone is good at—or comfortable with—physically caring for a person with dementia, but most people are more than willing to support you in other ways. A brother-in-law, for example, might be able to take care of the bills and other financial matters. Ask church members or neighbors to bring nutritious meals, shop for groceries or pick up medications. A friend employed within the health care industry can help you fill out necessary paperwork or talk with health care professionals. Ask a neighbor or family member to sit with your loved one for an hour in the morning so you can take a walk or a nap. If your loved one’s wanderings at night make it difficult for you to get adequate sleep, ask a family member to stay over one or two nights each week. And if suitable, talk to your employer about changing your hours or allowing you to participate in telework or flextime.

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