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The New Year is a time when we look ahead with optimism and dedicate ourselves to living better lives.
If you are a caregiver for a loved one with dementia, the optimism for the New Year might be tempered somewhat by your loved one’s disease and your own life’s increasing challenges as a dementia caregiver. However, the good news is that there are a few simple resolutions that can make your life in the New Year a healthier and happier one.
Says LaMia Johnson, MHA, BBA, Personal Care Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “In doing their loving best for loved ones with dementia, caregivers often experience the loss of their own physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. In fact, statistics tell us that at-home caregivers are at serious risk of burn out, depression, serious illness and even death. As a result, dementia care authorities have even referred to family caregivers as the “second victims” or the “hidden victims” of dementia.
“Therefore, as we begin the New Year, it is vital for highly-stressed, often overburdened dementia caregivers to take steps that will make their lives easier and more manageable, and that will improve their own quality of life. In doing so, they are in no way being selfish or self-centered. Rather, they are simply granting themselves the same type of love and compassion that they give to their loved ones every day.”
There are several resolutions that caregivers can make today that can significantly improve their own lives while also enabling them to provide better care for their loved ones with dementia. For example:
1. Don’t try to do it alone – None of us are superhuman and the physical and emotional toll of caregiving for someone with dementia can be more than any one human being can withstand. Enlist the help and support of other family members and friends, and listen to suggestions from other dementia caregivers who have gone through similar experiences.
When asking for help, dementia care experts advise that you should always be very specific in telling others exactly what you need. For example, instead of saying, “I need help with mom,” say, “Please take mom to get her teeth cleaned next Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.”
2. Use all available caregiving resources – Take full advantage of the many local and online resources that are available to help with dementia caregiving. These include adult day programs, visiting nurses, in-home assistance and meal delivery to name a few.
You can use the Alzheimer’s Association’s online Community Resource Finder or contact your local Alzheimer's Association chapter for assistance to find Alzheimer's care resources in your community. In addition, Alzheimer’s Navigator is a free online tool that helps evaluate your needs, identifies action steps and connects you with local programs and services.
3. Be knowledgeable about the disease – Being educated about dementia and its progression makes you a better caregiver and better enables you to anticipate and prepare for the challenges ahead. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills and support might be required.
The Alzheimer's Association® offers education and training programs on dementia to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that will occur. Being educated about dementia also enables you to plan ahead regarding legal and financial issues, as well as the use of round-the clock professional care. As dementia care experts advise, there comes a time when your loved one’s needs for care go beyond what can be provided safely and effectively in the home — even by the most devoted caregiver.
4. Take care of yourself – This year, resolve to make your own physical and mental health a top priority. You’re not being selfish, you’re being smart. And you’ll be a better caregiver for it. Commit yourself to finding time to stay involved with friends, family and the activities in life that you love.
Dementia care experts say that exercise, music, yoga, gardening, meditation, reading and outings with friends can reduce your stress and make you feel more fulfilled and balanced. Try to devote at least an hour a day to “you time” that can enhance your mental and social well-being. And be sure to see your health care provider on a regular basis to protect your physical or emotional health.
5. Take advantage of Respite Care – Respite care services, such as those offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, provide family caregivers of loved ones with dementia with a needed break from their busy caregiving routines and a chance to take care of their own needs. Caregivers receive the gift of much-needed “down time” to rest, relax and enjoy doing the things they love, while their loved ones benefit from the care, support, activities and companionship provided within our safe, nurturing environment.
Johnson adds, “Remember, your life is important too, and you deserve a full and satisfying life of your own. So, consider these five tips to start the new year and give yourself the gift of self-love.”
We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have about our exceptional, person-centered dementia care community or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.
If you have comments or questions about our blog, “5 Dementia Caregiver Resolutions for a Happier New Year,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.
Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.
Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.
If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.
If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.
Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.