Caregiver. The word carries a lot of weight.
It signifies a responsibility, a role change in life and sometimes a relationship change too.
For most people, there isn’t a “warm-up” or a dress rehearsal, it is a phase that starts on its own terms.
Setting a determined, positive and even energetic tone for braving the ups and downs ahead encourages happiness. It also benefits the well-being of your loved one over time. Remember that Alzheimer’s and dementia are progressive, so the best thing you can do is remember what they can do.
There will be days when life is lived fully and days when your loved one simply needs to feel safe and surrounded by love. That may feel like a big charge for you as a caregiver, but we’ve put together a few ways to get started.
And don’t worry, as you practice these caregiver tips, you’ll feel more at home in your caregiver role, even if it takes time!
Your Caregiver Role: The Basics
- Provide predictability. A predictable daily schedule helps your loved one remain engaged without being over stimulated, especially on difficult days.
- Avoid conflict. When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, try to have conversations and do activities that evoke feelings of positivity to reinforce a sense of comfort and safety.
- Break tasks into steps. This will allow your loved one to continue routine tasks for longer, even if their approach to accomplishing them is different now.
- Be patient. You are likely going to feel tired, frustrated and upset at times, it is human nature, but try your best not to let these emotions show. Your loved one may sense your frustration but not know how to cope with it anymore. Creating a personal coping strategy that works for you will help on tough days.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t let the frustration mentioned above make you feel guilty, just pause, take a deep breath and remember that this is someone you love, but that you are only human. You will be the best caregiver if you are happy and healthy yourself. Make sure you are eating right, getting plenty of rest and enjoying activities outside of the caretaker role.
How have you adjusted to your role as a caregiver? We’d love for you to share what you’ve learned!